Report by Nyashadzashe Ndoro and Abel Karowangoro
GOVERNMENT has this week introduced a new model of financing the Command Agriculture programme through local banks despite owing original suppliers of inputs huge sums of money.
In a statement issued by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube on Wednesday, government said it would jointly work with commercial banks to roll out Command Agriculture.
“It is pertinent to mention that as from the 2019/2020 summer cropping season and in line with the Transitional Stabilisation Programme and the Budget Statement for 2019, the financing model for special grain and oil seed production (Command Agriculture) has been transformed and now involves commercial banks and private sector out-grower schemes, working jointly with government on a Public Private Partnership basis,” Ncube said.
Government has admitted owing input suppliers such as Sakunda some money and vowed to deal with each case in accordance with the current financial framework.
“Government has fully availed all the local funding for the contracted hectarage through the financiers who were contractually tasked to handle the procurement processes. Any third party reconciliations and settlements are, therefore, handled in accordance with that arrangement. However, in some instances where input required foreign currency obligations, these will be treated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the current framework for resolving legacy foreign currency obligations,” Ncube added.
Addressing the media at a post-cabinet-briefing held in Harare on Monday, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said commercial banks such as CBZ, Stanbic and Agribank would facilitate financial provisions for the farmers.
Mutsvangwa also urged other banks to support agriculture through finance as farmers prepare for the 2019/2020 summer cropping season.
So far, three commercial banks, that is, CBZ, Stanbic and Agribank are participating in the programme.
“Other commercial banks are hereby encouraged to also come on board and support agriculture. All farmers are, therefore, invited to approach the aforementioned banks for financial assistance in preparation for the imminent summer agricultural season,” Mutsvangwa added.
Mutsvangwa added that the banks programme would go a long way in ensuring the transparency, accountability and sustainability of Command Agriculture.
Ncube welcomed the development, adding that bank auditors would ensure full transparency and accountability.
The Treasury boss was prompted to issue the Command Agriculture statement refuting allegations of corruption in Parliament by former Finance minister Tendai Biti, who said US$3 billion was siphoned from Treasury under the guise of funding Command Agriculture.