Harare East lawmaker Hon Tendai Biti has castigated government for signing a loan worth US$15 million pointing to the fact that the amount in question is a pittance in comparison to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.
GDP is the total monetary or market value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period.
The government of Zimbabwe signed a loan agreement with OPEC fund in July 2022.
The purpose of the loan is the support poor small holder farmers to achieve food and nutrition security, income and increase opportunities.
Small scale farmers set to benefit from the facility will be drawn from five provinces namely, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West Midlands and Matebeleland North.
The deputy minister of finance Hon Clemence Chiduwa brought before parliament the loan agreement worth US$15 million.
Biti Expresses Displeasure
Speaking in Parliament last Tuesday Hon Biti expressed his displeasure at government for entering into a loan agreement of such a low amount.
“Zimbabwe is a sovereign country that has been independent for 43 years and our GDP is around US$18 billion.
“For us Mr. Speaker, to sit in this House seeking to ratify a loan of US$15 million, there is something wrong.
“We are failing somewhere,” said Biti.
The lawmaker maintains well known and established companies in the country would not borrow a pittance amount to fund their operations, yet the country is keen to borrow no matter how little.
“US$15 million is not even a loan that can be borrowed by Econet, Delta Corporation, LaFarge Cement, Old Mutual, the top listed companies, the blue-chip companies of this country; they do not borrow US$15 million.
“It is petty cash.
“Small SMEs that want to develop will borrow US$15 million but we are a country.
“How can we borrow US$15 million? It is an embarrassment; it is absolutely ridiculous that we can borrow US$15 million as a sovereign republic, “said Biti.
Minister Blames Sanctions
In response the deputy minister of finance insisted that the country was facing a myriad of challenges as a result of sanctions which have made it difficult to access finance.
The minister further implored the lawmakers not to view the loan in isolation from other outside pressures bedeviling the country.
“ I think what I would want to bring to the attention of Hon. Members; which as a country we should not take for granted, I know the moment we mention the issue of sanctions, people think this is a small issue.
“The country is under sanctions and we have limitations in terms of what we can do as a country.
“I think for us as a country that is under sanctions, US$15 million is not a small figure and we need it as long as it is going to develop our farmers,” said Chiduwa.
Government is compelled by the law to seek approval from parliament. The country only becomes bound to the agreement after parliament gives a nod.