Shock as govt hikes duty threefold

By Rex Mphisa/Obey Manayiti

CUSTOMS and excise duties shot up threefold to the bond note value yesterday following government’s gazetting of Statutory Instrument 32 of 2019, ushering in the new currency, RTGS dollar (ZWL).

The central bank last week devalued the local RTGS currency and pegged it at 2,5 against the United States dollar from 1:1 and Zimra moved to effect the changes in its systems.

The new duty regime is likely to see an increase in the prices of goods by 300%.

Zimbabwe imports most consumer goods and their prices are also likely to rise three-fold after the new duty regime came into effect yesterday.

Shipping agents and private importers said they were caught unawares after the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) effected the new duty yesterday.

A statement by Zimra yesterday explained how the new duty regime works.

“The new currency affects clearance of designated goods by converting current balances in the nostro FCA prepayment account to ZWR at the prevailing exchange rate with the US$.”

“All foreign currency payments then appear on the payment receipt or prepayment receipt as ZW RTGS dollars,” the statement read.

Zimra added that the prepayment account would be used to clear designated goods.

All values on the bill of entry and form 49 would be reflected in RTGS dollars although payment would be made in forex.

“It is hoped that the above information will assist in the clearance process after introduction of the ZW RTGS currency,” added the statement.

“We have been caught by surprise. We were not expecting this so soon,” Bright Mateza, a clearing agent at Beitbridge Border Post, said.

Vehicles that would normally attract a duty of RTGS $2 000 had suddenly jumped to RTGS $6 000, he said.

Several shipping agents said they would have to increase their funds held by Zimra to afford the new duty regimes.

Shipping and Forwarding Agents’ Association of Zimbabwe chief executive, Joseph Masikati said they were seeking clarification on the effect of the increase on transit goods since the duty at stake would increase.

“The bonds that clearing agents hold in support of such goods are based on the previous rate of 1:1. Will such bonds be affected also by the increased duties at stake? Furthermore, clearing agents hold duties payable in Zimra prepayment accounts at the rate of 1:1. We obviously have to call for a top-up of these amounts from the importers,” Masikati said.

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