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Traders reject ‘insensitive’ US$30 Mthuli tax

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By Bulawayo Correspondent


INFORMAL traders in Bulawayo have angrily reacted to Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube’s proposal to tax them US$30 per month, saying the move will promote underground business dealings.

On Thursday, the minister unveiled a ZWL$421, 1 billion national budget for 2021 projecting an ambitious economic growth of 7,4 percent next year against the background of a contraction of about 10 percent in 2020.

Among some of his proposals, the minister imposed a monthly US$30 tax levy for Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

But Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) described the unpopular policy move as ridiculous.

“The US$30 that government is proposing to SMEs is really ridiculous. There is reduced business now because of Covid-19,” said BVTA executive director, Michael Ndiweni in an interview with NewZimbabwe.com.

Ndiweni said most informal traders were still reeling under the effects of Covid-19 and could not afford the new tax.

He added, “The government gave distressed informal traders a paltry $600 RTGS cushioning allowance, yet it is demanding US$30 from the same traders. Some have failed to stock and really this amount is an attack to the economic rights of traders to eke a living.

“The government must be very lenient as we all know that Covid-19 has drastically affected people in the informal sector. So, to have such an amount is really being insensitive on the part of government.

“As an association, we strongly reject such a fee and we are encouraging government to engage the sector.”

Ndiweni’s sentiments were echoed by the Bulawayo Hair saloon Operators Association (BOA).

“Most of our members will not afford this tax because currently, we are not making any profit due to the effects of Covid-19. We are going to see a lot of the sprouting of backyard hair salons barbershop in the high-density suburbs because this amount is unsustainable,” said BOA chairperson Mavis Mlambo.