MASVINGO – The government is working round the clock to catch tax evaders including land barons, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa has said.
Speaking at the handover of residential stands to beneficiaries by the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe, Chinamasa said opulent houses sprouting in most urban centres around the country was a clear sign that there was no shortage of money in the country.
“Only Treasury does not have money. There is no shortage of money in this country; we are trying to find the loopholes that make money come into your pockets without passing through our pockets as the fiscus. We are going to follow these land barons, through lifestyle audits we should be able to make them pay which should come to us,” he said.
The Finance Minister said all land in the country belongs to the government and all developers need state authority to put up structures or risk them bulldozed down, adding that there was also need to restore discipline in the economy for it to be successfully turned around.
“We should not have a hyperinflation mentality of wanting to make it big without doing anything,” he said.
Turning to the Clipsham Heights stands developed by IDBZ jointly with Gorge Safaris and George Holdings,Chinamasa said Zimbabwe faces major housing challenges due to rapid urbanization, a common feature in most African countries.
“New, targeted approaches to affordable housing are necessary for the government to take advantage of the demographic shift to make cities inclusive, spur economic growth and expand job opportunities for all citizens,” he said.
“With that in mind, the government has committed to do more to develop the property and real estate sector, both to provide new and affordable housing and to encourage an industry that provides significant demand for building materials and has the potential to generate massive employment opportunities.”
Apart from the immediate and obvious benefits of adequate housing, a well-functioning housing sector has some multiplier effects, upstream and downstream benefits and leads to economic growth that can improve livelihoods, create jobs and expand the market or demand for other goods and services required by new communities created out of these projects.
He said Clipsham Heights project was important as it demonstrates that local authorities, financial institutions, private sector players and other stakeholders in the housing sector can get together, collaborate and adopt innovative ways of providing housing aimed at reducing the growing national housing backlog,which stands at 1,25 million.
“While the government has also been working to directly provide housing to meet the demands of growing urban populations, it is unable to meet this mandate alone and, as such, programmes like the Clipsham Housing Project are important steps towards provision of shelter for the nation,” he said.
IDBZ is developing various other housing projects across the country including the New Marimba Project, Harare, Sumben, Mt Pleasant, Harare; Empumalanga in Hwange, Kasese Extension; Batonga and Baobab Projects in Kariba and Mbizo 22, Kwekwe.
Additional projects are being considered in Masvingo, Chiredzi, Gwanda, Plumtree, and Beitbridge.
“Beyond housing, government also acknowledges the crucial role the bank played in the completion of the Tokwe-Mukosi Dam in Masvingo province.
The bank is also leading efforts to harness additional funding resources outside our limited National Budget. Funding for channeling towards infrastructure projects across all the economic sectors, including but not limited to transport (road, air and rail), energy, water and sanitation,” said Chinamasa.
“Accordingly, Government is committed to strengthening and capacitation of the IDBZ through recapitalisation of the Bank as well as engaging its services to advise and work with Government on major national projects, such as funding for the mini-hydro power station for the recently completed Tokwe-Mukosi Dam; the dualisation of the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Highway and recently the modernisation of the Beitbridge Border Post, transforming it into an efficient One Stop Border Post for smooth passage of people and goods between South Africa and Zimbabwe and the rest of the region feeding into the North-South Corridor.”
“The centrality of the Bank’s role is also exemplified by the role they played in the energy sector when the IDBZ successfully funded the roll-out of the prepaid electricity metering project through issuance of Infrastructure Bonds which has enhanced collections of electricity bills by the power utility ZESA, at the same time ensuring that consumers are paying for their direct energy consumption and not for estimates.
We also applaud the role of the IDBZ in partly funding the expansion of the Kariba Power Station project through bonds issued by the Bank to investor institutions. On completion, the expansion project will deliver 300 Megawatts of electricity to the national grid,” said Chinamasa. – New Ziana