Informal traders, SMEs mourn over govt measures

Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association executive director Micheal Ndiweni

INFORMAL traders and small to medium enterprises (SME) have complained over government’s tax and passport fees hikes effected on January 1 this year.

Early this month, government, through the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) said: “Informal traders are encouraged to register with Zimra using the platform and be tax compliant.”

But the informal traders this week expressed their reservations during a meeting hosted by the Bulawayo Informal Sector Working Group to discuss the impact of the Finance ministry and Zimra’s Tax Certificate measures on the business community, wholesalers, retailers and informal traders.

Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South Micro Small Medium Enterprises advisory council member Dumisani Ncube said people should be educated about these policies before they are imposed on them.

“The changes within the budget in terms of the taxation for the SMEs and registered businesses are a cause for concern. The biggest challenge is literacy; people need to be educated on how these things are being run,” Ncube said.

He said he would engage authorities so that they educate the SMEs in terms of the policies, the acts and how Zimra registration and other registrations are done.

Trust Mkhwananzi of Pumula South said the taxes were making it difficult for them to save money as small businesses.

“Our policy as a nation towards the SMEs is completely out of line. It does not allow the small businesses to make more money. If they are as young as they (SMEs) are, they are asked to pay different taxes, automatically you are being created to be a failure,” Mkhwananzi said.

Thembi Khumalo, a local vendor, was not amused when passport fees were hiked.

“We use these for our daily businesses, buying from the nearby countries, but the passport fees are way too high for us because we already do not get enough from our businesses,” Khumalo said.

Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association executive director Micheal Ndiweni said: “Some wholesalers are reporting that they are stuck with products (because) no one is buying them. The implication of all this is that there is a possibility that you may see some of the goods getting out of the shops through the back door going to the black market.”

Government has, however, since reviewed its taxes, in a move which has been welcome by many in the formal business sector.

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