BY FIDELITY MHLANGA
MINING industry executives yesterday commended the central bank’s move to give the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) the sole mandate to collect fees and commissions previously paid to the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ), saying this would go a long way in curbing bureaucracy.
They said the move would also help mineral exporters circumvent problems related to economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.
The MMCZ has been under United States of America Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctions since 2008.
“There are a number of issues that need to be dealt with,” an executive told NewsDay Business.
“MMCZ is under OFAC sanctions which have been there since 2008 and OFAC can deduct money from its clients. I don’t know why MMCZ remains on sanctions while others have been removed. But whether it is MMCZ or Zimra, the fees and commissions need to be collected,” the executive said.
Announcing the changes last week, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) said after wide consultations, it had decided to help exporters in the industry by having fees and commissions collected under one roof.
Zimbabwe’s mines are projecting recovery this year following a difficult 2020 when COVID-19-induced lockdowns disrupted the entire global economy, forcing mining firms to suspend operations.
The changes came after requests from mineral exporters for government to implement growth-stimulating policies to help the mining sector recover and achieve US$12 billion in annual revenue from 2023.
The sector currently generates about US$2,3 billion per annum.
On Friday, Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe (CoMZ) chief executive officer, Isaac Kwesu said pandemic-induced headwinds were fizzling out, with companies returning to production after being buffeted by a brief 2021 lockdown and capital shortages during the first quarter.
“For us, 2020 was not a good year and the 2021 first quarter was no better,” Kwesu said.
“Capital constraints are still an issue. Last year we were constrained by COVID-19 and operating costs remain high. The first quarter was generally bleak but we are going to see a rebound in the second quarter. We continue to work closely with government so that we achieve our targets,” he said.
In a statement announcing the new policy last week, the RBZ said: “The bank has received numerous requests from mining exporters on the need to continuously improve the ease of doing business arising from complications around payment of fees and commissions to the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ)”.
“To make payment of statutory deductions easy for exporters of minerals, with immediate effect, all commissions and royalties that are due will no longer be deducted by MMCZ. All applicable taxes shall now be paid to Zimra in the normal manner,” said the RBZ.
CoMZ president Elizabeth Nerwande said the last financial year was difficult due to COVID-19.
She thanked authorities for granting them permission to operate during the pandemic-induced lockdown.
This week, the CoMZ holds its annual general meeting and conference in Victoria Falls, where several key issues affecting the sector will come under the spotlight.
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