By Alois Vinga
FINANCE Minister, Mthuli Ncube Thursday suspended duty on raw cheese, milk powder and wine among other goods while turning a blind eye on broader raw material imports currently choking Zimbabwean industry.
Presenting the 2020 national budget, Ncube announced the suspension of duty on raw cheese on ring-fenced quantities of up to 25 000kgs per month, for a period of 12 months beginning 1 January, 2020.
“I also propose to extend and increase the excise duty free ring-fenced import quota from 175 000 litres to 200 000 litres per annum for a period of two years beginning 1 January 2020. Local production of raw milk remains insufficient to meet the requirements of the dairy milk processors, hence I propose to extend duty suspension on milk powder for the year 2020,” he said.
The initiatives come at a time when local industry players are struggling to access foreign currency for use in raw materials importation.
As a result, a section of the sector’s players had expressed concerns towards considerable duty suspensions during the pre-budget period.
However few industries that enjoyed duty relaxations include the paint manufacturing industry which was granted a duty suspension for 150 000 litres per month of illuminating power kerosene which is a key ingredient in the manufacture of alkyd resins.
Small scale furniture manufacturers were granted a duty refund facility which is claimable on a quarterly basis, with effect from 1st January, 2020.
The pharmaceutical industry also received a refund for additional raw materials to be imported under rebate of duty while the clothing manufacturers received a rebate extension for a further two years in a bid to lower the cost of production.
Luggage-ware manufacturers’ received an extension of rebate duty facility for a period of two years alongside cross border luxury.
Safari operators received a suspension of duty facility to car hire companies for a period of 12 months.
“I further propose to extend the suspension of duty facility for the importation of 100 buses for 12 months beginning 1 January, 2019, in order to afford an opportunity to bus operators to replenish their fleet,” Ncube said.