The government has ordered all those who “externalised” huge sums of money to acquire properties outside the country to declare their assets, as the deadline for the return of all looted funds draws closer.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor, John Mangudya told Parliament yesterday that, to date, $487 million of the estimated $1,3 billion externalised funds had been returned to the government coffers.
Appearing before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Finance, Mangudya said the government was happy with the response rate, as 45% of the known externalised funds had been returned.
“We are happy with the response, 100% response is always difficult, but just for ease of the calculations it is not only $250 million that came in,” he said.
“We said $187 million was declared by firms, as having been externalised but came in as imports, so that one, we have to add it so from $1,3 billion.
“We need to remove $187 million, and apart from the $187 million there are also houses that were purchased by Zimbabweans outside Zimbabwe,” he said.
“So, what they (government) are saying is that out of the $1,3 billion that went out, $250 million is coming back, $187 million is money that went out, but came in as imports and $50 million was used to purchase fixed properties outside the country, so we need to add those ones that is why we said 45%.”
When NewsDay called last night for further clarifications on the 45% that was received, Mangudya said it was $287 million instead of the $187 million.
“It is supposed to be $287 million plus $250 million plus $50 million to make it $587 million divided by $1,3 billion that is your 45%.
“So the $287 million came in as imports, $250 million that came in as cash and $50 million, which was declared as assets outside the country if you add those three they give you $587 million,” he said.
Mangudya said those who had bought properties with externalised funds would have to declare the property, but admitted that the liberalised exchange control, was to blame, as it made it easy to expatriate funds.
Mangudya said a document will be released on Monday, listing exporters, who exported and did not bring money back, importers, who took money and did not bring in anything into the country and those who bought properties outside the country.
“We are saying you need to declare the property. You cannot sell them overnight, you need time to unwind your business because you took advantage of the weak exchange control rules at that time, so we can’t punish you,” he said.
Mangudya said the government has a legal leg to stand on when dealing with the externalised funds.
“I have also heard people talking about the legality of this amnesty. If you export goods and do not bring money back here, it is illegal, as simple as that … if you export goods from Zimbabwe, you are exporting the Zimbabwean gross domestic product,” he said.
“If you took money from Zimbabwe and say you are going to import a tractor and nothing comes back here … then again that is illegal.”
According to some property analysts, a number of Zimbabweans purchased properties in South Africa, taking advantage of the rand’s volatility at the time.
The fight against externalisation comes as the economy is facing serious foreign currency shortages, which have seen companies struggling to make foreign payments to suppliers of raw materials.
Asked by committee member, Dorcas Sibanda why he had not resigned since his bond note project has failed, the RBZ boss said the surrogate currency has been a success.
“I have not resigned because I am so happy that the bond notes aided in helping the companies in Zimbabwe to be resuscitated,” Mangudya responded.
Before the bond notes were introduced under the $200 million Afreximbank facility in 2016, Mangudya said he would resign if they fail to attain the desired results.