Equip­ment re­lease awaits $19m dis­burse­ment

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Nye­mudzai Kakore Harare Bureau

TREA­SURY should ex­pe­dite the dis­burse­ment of $19 mil­lion to the Min­istry of In­for­ma­tion, Me­dia and Broad­cast­ing Ser­vices by mid-Au­gust for the re­lease of equip­ment which is cur­rently be­ing held in Ger­many to fa­cil­i­tate the com­ple­tion of the Zimbabwe Dig­i­tal Broad­cast­ing Mi­gra­tion Pro­ject, Par­lia­ment heard yes­ter­day.

The Port­fo­lio Com­mit­tee on Me­dia, In­for­ma­tion and Broad­cast­ing Ser­vices chaired by Umz­ing­wane leg­is­la­tor Cde Wil­liam Dhewa (Zanu-PF) said the pro­ject may soon be­come a white ele­phant if Trea­sury does not give at­ten­tion to it.

The com­mit­tee was pre­sent­ing its first re­port on the Zimbabwe Dig­i­tal Broad­cast­ing Mi­gra­tion Pro­ject in Par­lia­ment. As such, the com­mit­tee called for the es­tab­lish­ment of a dis­burse­ment plan be­tween the min­istry and that of Fi­nance and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment.

“The Gov­ern­ment con­tracted Huawei In­ter­na­tional to carry out the dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion pro­ject at a cost of $125 mil­lion. A to­tal of $94 mil­lion was for equip­ment and $31 mil­lion for ser­vices. Dis­burse­ments to date are over $23 mil­lion for equip­ment and ser­vices in­clud­ing 10 per­cent ad­vance pay­ment,” reads the re­port.

“Er­ratic or non-dis­burse­ment of funds, es­pe­cially the much awaited $19 mil­lion will stall progress and fur­ther de­lay the com­ple­tion of the pro­ject. Equip­ment worth about $16 mil­lion is ready for ship­ment pend­ing pre-ship­ment pay­ment. How­ever, out­stand­ing pay­ments to Huawei to date is about $19 mil­lion for both equip­ment and ser­vices.”

The Com­mit­tee said equip­ment worth $17,3 mil­lion has been re­leased that in­cludes head-end equip­ment, satel­lite up­link, power sys­tems of head end, pock­ets hill and trans­mit­ter sites, trans­mit­ter equip­ment and an­tenna sys­tems for eight sites.

Other equip­ment in­cludes reg­u­la­tory con­tent mon­i­tor­ing equip­ment, six new tower ma­te­rial, Pock­ets Hill equip­ment for two stu­dios, mas­ter con­trol room and play-out sys­tems and 500 test set top boxes.

The com­mit­tee raised con­cern on the lack­adaisi­cal ap­proach be­ing taken by the min­istry on the con­tin­ued im­por­ta­tion of non-dig­i­tal tele­vi­sion sets say­ing this will re­sult in Zimbabwe be­ing the dump­ing ground of nondig­i­tally com­pli­ant tele­vi­sion sets.

“The Min­istry of In­for­ma­tion, Me­dia and Broad­cast­ing Ser­vices should gazette reg­u­la­tions re­strict­ing fur­ther im­por­ta­tion of dig­i­tally com­pat­i­ble tele­vi­sion sets that are non-com­pat­i­ble. Im­por­ta­tion of dig­i­tally com­pat­i­ble tele­vi­sion sets should be en­cour­aged through a re­duc­tion of a duty,” the re­port read.

The com­mit­tee then rec­om­mended for con­tent pro­duc­ers to be al­lowed de­fer­ment of duty on im­ported op­er­a­tional ma­te­ri­als or equip­ment as a strat­egy to en­cour­age more con­tent pro­duc­tion.

It called for aware­ness cam­paigns in var­i­ous dis­tricts for the im­par­ta­tion of knowl­edge to cit­i­zens as well as pro­vide ed­u­ca­tional ma­te­ri­als.

Mean­while, the com­mit­tee noted that the min­istry, through its per­ma­nent sec­re­tary, Mr Ge­orge Charamba, said it was alive to the need to align me­dia laws with the new Con­sti­tu­tion.

Mr Ge­orge Charamba

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