THE Ministry of Finance has released K125 million to the Ministry of Agriculture to pay arrears being owed to the farmers by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA). And the State has promised to release another K125 to K200 million next week to the farmers so that government only remains with a balance of about K76 million. Ms Siliya announced the release of the K125 million for farmers when she interacted with journalists at Parliament yesterday. Ms Siliya said Government bought a total 279 348 metric tons of maize through the FRA from the farmer national wide during the last marketing season. She said FRA was initially owing farmers K474 million and that government had paid about K73.1 million leaving a debt of K401 million. Ms Siliya assured the nation and the famers in particular that immediately the remaining K125 million would be released FRA would immediately start paying the farmers countrywide. She explained that the total debt in terms of marketing was K720 million out of which K474 million was owed to the famers while the remaining K276 million was owed to transporters and warehousing. “We have already paid K73 million…we are hoping to dismantle this debt of K401 million before the end of this year hopefully end of November. So, from that K401 million remaining the ministry of finance has immediately released K125mllion which leaves a balance of about K276 million,” she said. She said she was hoping that if the funds kept coming consistently, the debt owed to the farmers would be dismantled as soon as possible. Ms Siliya also thanked the farmers for the patience exhibited and assured them that she was putting pressure on the Minister of Finance Felix Mutati and the treasury to ensure that the farmers’ debt was liquidated despite the fiscal pressure on the treasury. Ms Siliya said in trying put up austerity measures, it was also important that the nation did not starve for growth by making sure that farmers were paid.
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