Zim moots electronic duty-free certificate

HARARE - Treasury is moving to introduce an electronic duty-free certificate to curb abuse of the paper following indications that government blew $258,5 million on imports in 2015 facilitated through the State-issued documents.

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said following rampant abuse of the State-issued paper, government was tightening screws on the issuing process.

“…There are, however, circumstances where duty-free certificates have been abused, thereby defrauding the fiscus, as well prejudicing local producers.

“In order to enhance compliance and also secure an effective audit trail, it is proposed to introduce an electronic duty-free certificate.

“Duty-free certificates issued by accounting officers will, thus, be lodged into the Zimbabwe Revenue

Authority Automated System for Customs Data (Asycuda) system,” Chinamasa recently said.

The Treasury chief last year told National Assembly that the total value of duty-free certificates — used for duty-free clearance of imported goods for the exclusive use of government — issued in 2015 stood at $258,5 million while the 2014 figure was $292 million.

The certificates are

issued in line with Treasury Circular No. 13 of 2005 and cannot be used to clear goods for individuals.

In 2015, Health and Child Care ministry accounted for $162,3 million of the total goods imported using duty-free certificates — making it the State’s biggest importer — followed by the Tourism and Hospitality Management ministry which imported $42,3 million worth of goods.

“However, it is important to note that some government departments, particularly the Health and Child Care ministry also receive donated goods from external donors. The goods are also cleared using duty-free certificates,” Chinamasa said.

This comes amid concern from various quarters over the issuance of the certificates as it also recently emerged that various government departments were using the certificates to import goods then selling them on the black market.

Late last year, the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority revealed that the CMED was importing at least 600 000 litres of duty-free fuel per month, with some ending up being sold at exorbitant prices on the black market.

Zimbabwe has restricted the basic goods that can make their way into the country without attracting duty and cut travellers rebate to $200 from $300.

Taxes charged on imports accounted for 21 percent of the $725 million taxes collected by the country’s tax agency during the first quarter of this year.

Comments (1)

Whenever Flight UM1 lands at Harare from overseas, nobody pays ANY duty for any goods on board. Ministers demand duty free status when they come back from an overseas visit. Theives - all of them. They are the people who are depriving this country of income. Wait till UM1 lands back at Harare at month end - with 7 tons of Zing-Zong goods, like hundreds of TVs and DVD players. Not one cent of duty will be collected.

Homo Erectus - 5 January 2017

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