‘Consider reintroducing airport levy’

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Finance minister Tendai Biti says there is need to reconsider the introduction of aviation levy in order to raise finance for the upgrading of infrastructure at the country’s airports.

Presenting the 2012 Budget strategy paper last week, Biti said there was need to revamp the transport system for the country to become a destination of choice.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe early this year postponed the introduction of the proposed levy for domestic and international travellers at the country’s airports citing logistical and administrative challenges.

“Ensuring that Zimbabwe becomes a destination of choice for tourists requires that our airports infrastructure is upgraded to international standards at an estimated cost of $350 million,” said Biti

“Reconsideration of the implementation of the Aviation Infrastructure Development levy, complemented by private capital, should unlock sufficient finance for all airports infrastructure rehabilitation and upgrading programmes.”

Biti said the funds would cover outstanding works for Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Airport estimated at $10 million.

Upgrading of Victoria Falls, Buffalo Range and Kariba airports is expected to require $340 million.

Under the proposed levy, which was supposed to be introduced on May 1, domestic and international air travellers were expected to fork out an extra $10 and $30 in levies respectively.

Diplomats, direct transit passengers and children under two years were exempted from the tax, with the funds raised going towards the upgrading of airports.

However, the proposed introduction of the airport levy drew widespread criticism from players in the tourism industry arguing they had not been consulted.