Duty on shoes, clothes scrapped

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Government has ordered the reinstatement of a rebate on shoes and clothes with immediate effect as it moves to ease travellers woes at the countrys border posts.

A rebate is an amount paid by way of reduction, return, or refund on what has already been paid or contributed.

The development follows an outcry from members of the public over the manner Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) officials were handling travellers since the rebate was removed in August last year.

In a statement Finance minister Tendai Biti yesterday said complaints of unwarranted customs clearance formalities showed Zimra officials were failing to differentiate ordinary travellers from those undertaking commercial activities.

Biti said measures to provide limited protection to the local industry through the review of rebate of duty on blankets, shoes and refrigerators, among other products, had been misconstrued by Zimra officials as justification for indiscriminate searching of travellers.

To obviate such misconstrued justifications, the travellers rebate has accordingly been amended to accommodate shoes and clothing, Biti said.

He described the searches conducted by Zimra officials as tantamount to harassment that was inconsistent with the authoritys legal obligation to act lawfully, fairly and reasonably at all times.

The minister said all bona fide travellers, business travellers and tourists with nothing to declare must not be searched.

Random physical searches will, however, be conducted by Zimra on travellers carrying commercial consignments, he said.

Biti has since directed the Zimra board and its management to apply customs clearance formalities in a manner that does not inconvenience ordinary travellers.

The boards call on management cessation of all indiscriminate searching of travellers, which results in delays and inconveniences at ports of entry should, therefore, be acted upon by Zimra Customs, Biti said.

Last week the Zimra board ordered its staff manning borders to stop conducting body searches on travellers and tourists.