Treasury disburses US$30,5 million towards digitalisation project: Chinamasa

Source: Treasury disburses US$30,5 million towards digitalisation project: Chinamasa | The Financial Gazette July 24, 2016

FINANCE Minister Patrick Chinamasa says Treasury has to date disbursed an unbudgeted $30.5 mln as bridging finance towards the Digitalisation programme and the fiscal space currently remains depressed to finance capital projects.

Chinamasa who was appearing before a Parly Committee on Media said government cannot commit a period on which it will make available resources to finance the digitalisation project, but will continue to pursue initial funding arrangement of disposing a frequency spectrum to NetOne for $200 mln.

“I will not make promises as to when resources will be available, but I will do my best. At the moment I am not seeing much fiscal space, as am grappled with wages and there is no money for capital projects,” he said.

The digitalisation project involves the switching from analogue broadcasting to digital terrestrial television in keeping with International Telecommunication Union requirements.

The original plan for financing the project was to auction frequency spectrum (digital dividend) that would become available upon completion of the process and was sold to mobile network operator Netone for a consideration of 172. 95 mln, but the mobile company failed to raise the capital.

Following the collapse of the initial funding arrangement with Netone, Government took over the whole
project, placing it under the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP), which meant Government would raise money directly for the digitalisation project.

Chinamasa said the spectrum which was sold to NetOne for $172.95 mln could fetch more on the open market.

“We sold it to NetOne for $200 mln because it was an in-house sale. Also blame me for delaying to collapse the deal with NetOne as I continued to believe they would have capacity to pay,” he said.

Chinamasa said he still believes the project should be funded from the sell of digital dividend spectrum and will work tirelessly to avail funds for the completion of the digitalization program.

“We have since taken back the spectrum and looking for another buyer, I am much distressed about the project as well but we can’t abandon it,” he said.

On the other hand, Information and Broadcasting Services Chris Mushowe said the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) invited applications for Radio stations in 25 areas in 2013 and received 20 applications for 9 areas  FinX