Did the ZIMRA boss lie to a Parliamentary Committee?


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The Deputy Minister of Finance Samuel Undenge last week told Parliament that the government entered into an arrangement with departments that collect fees to retain that money which would in turn be offset against their expenditure allocation implying that the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority boss Gershom Pasi lied to the Public Accounts Committee that police were collecting as much as US$7 million a month from roadblocks but did not remit that money to treasury.

Undenge, however, refused to confirm that Pasi lied arguing that this was unparliamentary.

He was asked by Mutasa South legislator Irene Zindi why his ministry was allowing police to collect fees without remitting them to treasury.

“Government entered into arrangements with some departments who collect fees on behalf of the fiscus. The arrangement was that they retain that money and it will be offset against the allocation in the expenditure,” Undenge said.

“So, it is not correct to say that they do not account for that money. It is an arrangement which was simply entered into so as to speed up service provision. We do have, not only the Police, but there are other departments like that which retain the funds they collect then it will be offset.”

When Zindi asked Undenge whether this meant that Pasi had lied under oath to the parliamentary committee, Undenge replied: “Mr. Speaker Sir, I know it is unparliamentary to say so and so lied. So I will indeed honour the language used in Parliament.”

 

Q & A:

 

MS. ZINDI: Thank you Hon. Speaker. My question is directed to the Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development. I need to find out from the Deputy Minister the reason why his Ministry which is responsible for ZIMRA is allowing the ZRP to continue collecting public funds and not remitting it? – [AN HON. MEMBER: ZINARA] – wozobvunzawo yako.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, address the Chair please – [HON.MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]-.

MS. ZINDI: I take note of that Hon. Speaker, thank you for that guidance. I was making reference to collection of public funds and in particular spot fines by the ZRP and not being remitted to ZIMRA. Why is the Minister allowing that kind of situation? In addition to that, I would like to find out from the Minister again; who is responsible for printing the receipt books which are used by ZRP when they fine people on spot fines?

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (DR. UNDENGE): Mr. Speaker, it is a good question which the hon. member has asked and let me take this opportunity to clarify it. Government entered into arrangements with some departments who collect fees on behalf of the fiscus. The arrangement was that they retain that money and it will be offset against the allocation in the expenditure. So, it is not correct to say that they do not account for that money. It is an arrangement which was simply entered into so as to speed up service provision. We do have, not only the Police, but there are other departments like that which retain the funds they collect then it will be offset.

With regard to the printing of the receipt books which are used, there is a tight security system with the printing of such invoices and everything is accounted for. As you know, we have the Government Central Stores and we also have Fidelity Printers to print some of the things which are of security nature. So everything is accounted for. Every receipt book produced is accounted for. If any receipt book is printed fraudulently, then I think the system catches up with that kind of criminal behaviour. I thank you Mr. Speaker.

MS. ZINDI: Thank you Hon. Speaker. I have a follow up question. So if we are to go by the response of the Deputy Minister, should we take it that the Director-General, Mr. Gershom Pasi lied under oath when he was presenting his evidence to the Portfolio Committee on Public Accounts and that is point number one? Point number two, could we at least have the audited statement of the funds from the Police presented to Parliament and if at all, do they have those audited statements of the public funds as spot fines as far as my question is concerned, that they can present to this august House?

DR. UNDENGE: Mr. Speaker Sir, I know it is unparliamentary to say so and so lied. So I will indeed honour the language used in Parliament.

MS. ZINDI: Point of order Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: What is your point of order?

MS. ZINDI: My point of order Hon. Speaker is on the statement made by the Hon. Deputy Minister that I used unparliamentary language to say the Director-0General lied under oath. You are the Speaker, the Chair but you never mentioned that that is unparliamentary. I would like the Minister just to give responses to my question as is – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections].

DR. UNDENGE: Mr. Speaker, my simple response, I do not stand here to say so and so lied. That is not my mandate when I stand before this House.

The second question Mr. Speaker, for accountability in terms of how much is collected, that can be done because there is indeed an accounting process which they do with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development with details of how the retained fees was used and how much it was. So that information can be obtained. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: What is the supplementary hon. member?

MR. CHAMISA: Asi Mr. Speaker havachaoni kuno uku!

MS. ZINDI: Thank you Hon. Speaker. I stand guided by you Hon. Speaker. Could we possibly have the audited statements of the spot fines by next week presented in this august House because these are records already in office? So it is just a question of pulling from the files and they present before the august House – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections].

MR. SPEAKER: The Minister has not responded and I do not know you are standing up.

DR. UNDENGE: Mr. Speaker, perhaps let me enlighten the House to the fact that there are certain due processes which take their own time and of which you cannot force something to happen within a given time because it is a due process. For example, we do have the Comptroller and Auditor-General whose function is to audit all government finances wherever they have been collected, used and accrued. So, I would say it is not possible to have audited accounts within one week. Let that due process take place. When completed, certainly the data and information will be availed. I thank you Mr. Speaker.

(11 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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