Classify us as essential service providers: REIZ

BY RICHARD MUPONDE

THE Real Estate Institute of Zimbabwe (REIZ) has approached government seeking to be classified as essential service providers during the COVID-19-induced lockdown period.

In terms of Statutory Instrument (SI) 10 of 2021, institutions frozen out of essential services privilege can lodge applications for exemption with the government.

This follows a 30-day lockdown, which took effect from January 5 and is likely to be extended due to the spiralling of COVID-19 positive cases and deaths.

In a letter dated January 11 addressed to Industry and Commerce permanent secretary Mavis Sibanda, REIZ president Alexander Millin said they qualified to be classified as essential service providers.

“Essentially, the sector is an integral part of essential services such as finance, health, mining, agriculture, airlines, hospitality, and ICTs, which function within a built environment supported by the real estate sector,” Millin said.

“It is for this and other reasons that we are making a passionate appeal to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce to be exempted from the lockdown.”

He said the exemption sought would benefit related sectors such as the Estate Agents Council of Zimbabwe, the Valuers Council of Zimbabwe, the Construction Industry Federation of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Building Contractors Association, the Institute of Architects of Zimbabwe and the Engineering Council of Zimbabwe.

“The real estate sector in Zimbabwe employs over 100 000 workers, with the construction sector alone being home to 30 000 wage and salaried jobs, including 20 000 self-employed. The industry also contributes substantial revenues to the fiscus through various tax heads such as capital gains tax, property tax, value-added tax, presumptive tax, income tax and pay-as-you-earn. It also supports the built environment for industries classified as essential services,” he said.

Millin said his organisation also felt that shutting down the sector would choke financial flows that benefit pensioners while also depriving the whole economy of long-term funding for capital projects and investments needed for economic growth and development.

He said the shutdown of the sector had opened a window of opportunity for bogus agents that were on the loose, fleecing unsuspecting and desperate clients of their hard-earned income under the guise of delivering a service that would never materialise.

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