Nyemudzai Kakore Herald Correspondent
Transport and Infrastructural Development Dr Joram Gumbo yesterday defended the granting of duty-free status on fuel imports for the Dema Electricity Project, Kariba South Extension and Africa Chrome Fields saying the three enjoyed national project status and were critical in the generation of electricity for the nation.
He said this when he appeared before the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy yesterday in response to concerns about the legality of the duty exemption to private companies.
Minister Gumbo said since Government was a partner in the projects, they ceased to be of private nature adding that the issuance of the certificates was guided by letters received from Treasury following a Cabinet decision to that effect
“Statutory Instrument 184 of 2014 provides for duty free importation of fuel by CMED. It is important for your committee to note that the custodian of the statutory instrument in question is Treasury. We are just an implementing agency,” he said.
“The Minister of Finance wrote to me on March 21, 2017 outlining the benefits to the nation following the provision of duty free fuel to Africa Chrome.
“Specifically by implementing this decision, Government has already boosted chrome output by 320 percent from February 2016 to February 2017,” said the Minister.
“We therefore acted in accordance with clear instructions whose basis we fully appreciate, whose intentions we support, and with knowledge that the decision we are implementing is in line with Government’s position.”
On the legality of the issuance of the certificates, Minister Gumbo said his secretary had since written to Treasury highlighting the possibility of legal gaps with respect to SI 184 of 2014 and also requested Treasury, in liaison with Attorney General’s office, to close such gaps.
He said if the projects were to be switched off, the whole country would be plunged in darkness as well as derailing the Zim-Asset agenda.
“Your observations are not disputable. I sincerely hope that Treasury, through the Attorney General’s office, will take corrective measures if need be,” he said.
Chairman of the portfolio Dr Daniel Shumba, however, argued that the structure of SI 184 of 2014 only referred to equipment and infrastructure.