Byo business community pleads with govt

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THE Bulawayo business community has urged the government to consider relaxing loan application conditions for companies seeking to benefit from the Distressed Marginalised Areas Fund (Dimaf).

Report by Pamela Mhlanga

Companies said the requirement for Dimaf beneficiaries to produce tax clearance certificates was discriminatory.

Addressing a business stakeholders meeting in Bulawayo yesterday, branch chairperson of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, Ntombenhle Moyo, said most firms in the city were struggling to meet the stringent tax requirement.

“It is a cause for concern,” Moyo said.

“As a result of the hostile economic environment in Bulawayo, most companies in the city are failing to get tax clearance. All Dimaf efforts to revive distressed companies end up coming to naught.”

She said a distressed company that has been going for months without paying its workers for example, could not be expected to be compliant and produce a healthy tax clearance certificate.

“The Finance ministry should relax that requirement on distressed companies so that the tax clearance cannot be a hindrance in acquiring Dimaf and other funds, because at the moment companies are failing to access the loans,” Moyo said.

However, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) officials attending the meeting said the tax clearance issue was a policy matter that had been legislated and it would be difficult to change the law.
“As Zimra, we are simply enforcing what has been legislated and it would be difficult for Zimra to make submissions on behalf of the businesses,” one official said.

“The businesses should themselves make a submission to the ministry and that is procedural.”

Dimaf was introduced to stem the tide of de-industrialisation that has gripped cities over the past few years, with Bulawayo reportedly having lost over 80 firms through company closures or relocation.