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Used car import ban looms

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THE government is working on regulations that would halt the importation of cheap ex-Japanese second-hand vehicles to promote the local automotive industry.

NQOBANI NDLOVU

Industry and Commerce deputy minister Chiratidzo Mabuwa said Zimbabwe was losing much-needed foreign currency in importing second-hand vehicles.

Local vehicle assembling company Willowvale Mazda Motor Industry (WMMI) has also blamed its troubles on the continued importation of used cars.

Many Zimbabweans have resorted to importing second-hand vehicles, mainly from Japan, as they are cheaper than those assembled locally.

“We have a document that we have since furnished to the Cabinet which is going to be debated on,” Mabuwa said in the Senate last week in response to a question by Zanu PF Senator Shuvai Mahofa on what the government was doing to stop foreign currency outflows on importation of used cars.

“In that document, there is an issue on the manufacturing of vehicles and the issue of the money that is going out of the country to buy vehicles that come here and then they break down.

“What we are doing right now is that there is a motor industry policy which we are using. It will be out very soon. It would encourage that we have four companies in Zimbabwe that are able to manufacture vehicles and to see whether they can make vehicles that can be accessible so that we cannot continue to lose foreign currency,” Mabuwa said.

Previous attempts by the government to raise import duty on second-hand vehicles to deter the buying of affordable cars outside the country have been met with resistance.

The government blames the second-hand ex-Japanese vehicles for the high number of accidents while former Environment and Natural Resources minister Francis Nhema once proposed their ban saying they are a threat to the environment.

However, the government continues to gross hundreds of millions of dollars in duty charged on the importation of affordable second-hand vehicles, according to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency.

The government in 2010 tried to ban the importation of used cars, but abandoned the move following public pressure.

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