By Alois Vinga
FINANCE Minister, Mthuli Ncube has suspended duty payment on imported spares used to assemble buses in what feeds into speculation this could be aimed at facilitating government’s Belarus deal in which Zimbabwe is set to receive buses from the eastern European nation.
In line with Statutory Instrument 8 of 2020, the Treasury boss said duty suspension will only apply to cases of deserving companies as determined by designated officials.
“Suspension of duty on semi-knocked down (SKD) bus kits imported by approved assemblers. The kits contain parts needed to assemble buses and are typically manufactured in one country or region, then exported to another country or region for final assembly,” Ncube said.
He said customs duty will be suspended to a rate of duty of 10% on bus kits imported or taken out of bond by an approved assembler for use in the assembly of buses in terms of this section.
The waiver shall not apply to importers of completely built-up bus bodies and any person who wishes to claim a suspension of duty in terms of this section shall apply to the proper officer in the form approved by the Commissioner for registration as an assembler.
To qualify, companies are required to submit additional documents before the importation or removal of the kits from bond.
Market watchers have however described the latest announcement as a move aimed at facilitating the smooth implementation of the agreements reached between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Belarus authorities in 2019.
At the time, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko offered to give Zimbabwe 500 buses with the hope of increasing the fleet in line with the Transitional Stabilisation Plan which partly talks about modernising public transport.
The first batch of the buses was expected last year before the commencement of the rain season.
Local bus manufacturing company, AVM Africa, has since been roped in to assemble 300 of the 500 buses that will be supplied from Belarus.