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RBZ to probe Agribank loans

Shakeman Mugari

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) will soon make a thorough audit of the $60 billion agricultural fund disbursed to farmers through the government-owned Agribank last year. <

RBZ governor Gideon Gono announced on Wednesday last week that the bank would within the next few months comb through Agribank’s loan book in an effort to recover the funds.

“Furthermore, the coming months will seek to see the proper account and recovery of the $60 billion funds disbursed through the Land Bank Capital,” he said. “Important lessons should emerge from the exercise.”

The audit would include an analysis of the beneficiaries, how they used the funds and payback conditions that were set by government and Agribank.

“Those who took the money must be made to account for it,” Gono said.

The disbursement of the fund has been a subject of heated debate and controversy with allegations that the loans did not reach intended beneficiaries.

There were allegations that top government and bank officials allotted themselves millions of dollars for speculative purposes. A number of ministers are also reported to have benefited from the concessional interest rates offered under the fund.

Gono said the RBZ had already begun consultations with the Ministry of Lands and Agriculture to pursue debtors.

Repayment of the loans has been slow with information that the bulk of the beneficiaries were unable to repay them.

Agricultural production has declined by a cumulative 26% over the past three years. Since the beginning of the year agriculture has benefited to the tune of $522,2 billion, which is 36,8% of total disbursements under the concessional financing facility.

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