Government has slashed travellers’ rebate from the current $300 to $200 with effect from January next year, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has said.
The travellers’ rebate is a duty free allowance granted on goods imported into the country by a traveller once per calendar month. It is granted, provided that goods are properly declared, not for resale or of a commercial nature and the value of goods does not exceed $300.
Addressing delegates at the Zanu PF annual conference in Victoria Falls on Friday, Chinamasa said as part of revenue enhancing measures in 2016 — he was scrapping $100 off the privilege which he said was being abused by informal traders.
“Notwithstanding the noble intention behind the travellers’ rebate to grant relief on travellers’ personal effects, it is, however, being abused by informal traders to import commercial consignments duty free.
“So, as outlined in the budget, we have reviewed it downwards the duty free allowance to $200 per calendar month, in order to complement efforts to resuscitate local industry, with effect from January 1, 2016,” the Treasury chief said.
The minister said the abuse of the rebate had dampened efforts being made by government to revive local industry and safeguard revenue inflows to the fiscus.
This comes as Chinamasa in his mid-term Fiscal Policy Statement scrapped import duty rebates on all locally-available consumables.
Chinamasa also told the conference that government was moving to tighten screws on informal trade taxes, after the introduction of presumptive tax.
Presumptive taxes were introduced in the country in 2005 but were further enforced in 2011 to broaden the revenue base in view of the increasing informal business activities.
Selected sectors of the economy such as restaurants, bottle stores, cottage industries, hair salons and commuter operators were targeted to ensure the participation of informal businesses.
Zimra commissioner-general Gershem Pasi has lately widened the tax net in a desperate bid to rake in more revenue required to fund government’s tottering operations leading to the taxing of struggling vendors across the country.
This is in the wake of the tax collector missing net cumulative revenue collections for the third quarter of the year by nearly nine percent, on the back of most tax heads underperforming due to a weakening economy.
The taxman’s net collections at $878, 2 million were 91, 1 percent of the targeted collections of $964 million.