New Zimbabwe (London)

Zimbabwe: Govt Slashes Fees for Diamond Polishers

THE Ministry of Mines and Mining Development has reduced the licensing fee for diamond polishing companies from US$100,000 to US$20,000, at the same time extending the license life span from one year to 10 years.

Nearly 70 of the diamond cutting and polishing firms recently closed shop over the past three years.

The country's diamond cutting licensing policy has been described by industry experts as restrictive.

The policy includes a US$100,000 licensing fee that is renewed annually and an additional 15 percent sales tax which is levied on any company that buys diamonds from the producing companies for cutting and polishing on the domestic market.

"We would reduce the license fee from US$100,000 to US$20,000 ... You don't bring equipment to Zimbabwe and say I will make money in one year; no you do so over 10 or 15 year periods," the minister of Mines and Mining Development Walter Chidhakwa said.

He added: "We said let the licence be a ten-year licence so you don't have to come here all the time and I can look at you and I say you didn't give me my bribe next year you will be here I will get it from you."

Chidhakwa, who was addressing journalists during a press briefing for the mineral beneficiation conference to be held next week, said his ministry intends to build a viable mining industry.

"We want to build an industry. We are not in the business of selling licenses. We are in the business of creating industries. That industry then gives everybody jobs, everybody income by way of taxes by way of profits," Chidhakwa said.

According to Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG), Zimbabwe has the potential to generate over US$8 billion and create over 200,000 jobs annually, if the government introduces mineral beneficiation which would allow a percentage of the country's rough diamonds to be cut and polished locally.

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