'Women reeling from impact of 2 percent tax'

HARARE - Government’s new monetary policy is adversely affecting the quality of life of women, the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) has said.

WCoZ said the new tax on electronic payments has overburdened already suffering women, who are overrepresented among the poor and among those that hold low paying jobs.

Finance minister Mthuli Ncube on October 1 announced the 2 percent tax, saying the money raised would be used in the roads, health and education sectors.

The tax will apply on mobile and card payments and bank transfers above $10 with exceptions for foreign payments and transfer of government funds.

“Given the severe cash shortages obtaining in the country, citizens are already struggling with the use of electronic money to pay for all their basic commodities on a daily basis. For them to have two percent deducted on each of all those transactions is overstretching, especially for women,” noted WCoZ.

“Instead of overlooking its own bias, WCoZ insists that government assess and take due cognisance of how the tax policy is and will adversely affect the lives of women and citizens in general.

“Loss of women’s income will inflict untold suffering upon children and cause families to remain in the poverty trap.

“As commodity and food prices increase, women will find it increasingly difficult to put food on the table.”

This comes as the cost of living as measured by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe consumer basket for a family of six increased by $62,39 over the past month.

WCoZ said the new measures had also negatively impacted banking institutions, where women in the informal sector used to secure loans.

“Thousands of women informal traders and women-run enterprises in agribusiness such as poultry, the main beneficiaries of microcredit, are losing their livelihoods as banking institutions have started cutting microfinance lending because of the impact of the monetary policy on parallel market rates and inflation,” said WCoZ’s statement.

“This does not at all reciprocate with the ‘Zimbabwe is open for business’ mantra.”

WCoZ suggested the government has a woeful record towards women - and a complete disinterest in their plight.

The NGO said it is smart economics to invest more in women’s earning power to curb the familiar trend of women and girls suffering disproportionately during times of economic crisis.

WCoZ also bemoaned the unprecedented surge in drug shortages, exorbitant prices charged in US dollars and suspended medical aid schemes, saying this is endangering the lives of women and the rest of the Zimbabwean society.

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