Finance Secretary, Guvamatanga grilled over fuel hike refund

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By Alois Vinga

ENERGY parliamentary portfolio committee chairperson, Simbaneuta Mudarikwa has expressed concern over the failure by several businesses to access refund for extra costs they incurred as a result of fuel price increases effected early this year.

Mudarikwa, the Zanu PF lawmaker for Uzumba, quizzed Finance Ministry Secretary, George Guvamatanga when he appeared before the parliamentary portfolio committee on energy, Thursday, over why access to the fund was difficult.

“We are aware of the fact that the Finance Ministry extended the refund program in January this year and a commitment to reimburse various players in the country’s economic sectors of all the extra costs associated with fuel price hikes was made. However, our enquiries show that no one has received the refund since the program’s introduction what could be the reasons?” Mudarikwa inquired of Guvamatanga.

In response, Guvamatanga said that there is a clear criterion which was set out for all prospective beneficiaries to meet before getting the rebate.

“There is a refund mechanism which has been designed following consultations with relevant sector representatives such as the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and the line Ministries responsible for targeted industries as well as treasury.

“The implementation of the modalities of that mechanism, which are supported by the relevant customs regulations and Statutory Instrument includes identification of the particular taxpayers in the relevant industry after submission of an application for registration,” he said.

Guvamatanga added that there is also need to provide the name under which the approved entity will operate and the address of the principal officers in Zimbabwe , certified copy of the certificate of incorporation, copy and names of the partnership.

He said upon successful registration, an application shall be made to the commissioner and the refund will be processed if certain conditions are met.

“It is not an automatic refund system, the beneficiaries of the facility must register and apply to qualify and claim their refund. Those who adjusted their prices in line with fuel price increases will not benefit because they would have rewarded themselves,” Guvamatanga said.

The committee’s members submitted that since most businesses in Zimbabwe are in the informal sector, most of them will fail to meet the criteria and in turn expose citizens to price hikes.

Most economists condemned the initiative at its inception describing it as unrealistic.

John Roberson described the proposal as an “unworkable idea”.

“Government officials are likely to corrupt the process by producing rebate certificates for their friends,” he said. The system will be time consuming and there is no way a business person will be willing to incur costs which will not be recovered in the short term,” he said.