Tuesday, 20 March 2018
Government must come clean on who externalised funds
President Mnangagwa promised to name and shame individuals who externalized funds. But the list unveiled today the 19th March is disappointing. Conspicuous by their absence are Zanu PF big wigs and sharks who have been looting our national resources through the plunder of diamonds and asset stripping.
The list is dominated by companies. It is common cause that due to lack of confidence and the shortage of foreign currency most companies exercised due diligence by keeping money off shore in order to finance imports and service off shore financial obligations such as loans and other financial commitments. How else could these companies survive without access to foreign currency?
It is common cause again that Nostro balances at the Reserve Bank are depleted and most companies are having to resort to the parallel market to get foreign currency to finance imports at a high premium. This is why almost every importing and exporting company is on that list. When you have such a list dominated by exporting companies then the nomenclature of 'externalization" becomes inappropriate.
It made business and economic sense for those companies to keep money off shore given the deteriorating business and macroeconomic environment in the country especially after 2013. This problem was created by government through poor fiscal and monetary policies.
Confidence was lost and there was massive capital flight. Government responded by introducing bond notes as a so-called export incentive when in fact it was a clever way of reintroducing the Zim dollar albeit with restricted circulation.
Government lied that the bond note was going to be at par with the United States dollar which was a fallacy that I exposed from the onset. I argued that it would never happen that way. I also warned that the black market would resurface, prices will increase and companies will hedge themselves through externalization. This is what exactly happened. And this is the context within which this externalization should be understood.
Where was the Reserve Bank when exporters were not acquitting their export declaration forms? The fact that these companies are known means that the externalization was known and therefore not illicit. The Reserve Bank kept records of exporters who did not acquit. So it is dishonest for government to seek cheap political capital by publishing a list of names of companies who are in the official business of exports.
What this shows is that government has backtracked on its initial intention of exposing individuals involved in real illicit financial outflows. By publishing a list dominated by companies, government is simply posturing and actually camouflaging and protecting real culprits who are the big wigs in Zanu PF.
We reject the so-called list with the contempt it deserves. We want to see the real list not a list of exhorting companies who have not acquitted the export forms to the RBZ. After raising the hopes of citizens government chickened out and decided to publish an official list of bonafide exporters. This is not acceptable.
As MDC we demand full accountability and transparency. The list is meant to protect looters. We are waiting for the real list of individuals who privately externalized funds and prejudiced Zimbabwe billions of dollars. On top of the list should be those who externalized $15 billion. All in all the published list is just but a public relations exercise.
It’s not a list of real illicit financial flows by definition. By illicit we mean fraudulent and illegal transactions that are conducted below the radar not official exporters who have not yet acquitted their export declaration forms. We want to see the list of politicians who have stashed funds in offshore accounts in Switzerland, Jersey, Virgin Islands, Mauritius, Isle of Man, China, Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong and other safe financial havens.
Dr. Tapiwa Mashakada,
MDC Secretary for Finance and Economic Affairs