VICTORIA FALLS - Zimbabwe is considering scrapping travellers' rebates on basic commodities to boost local industry, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said on Thursday.
Chinamasa told delegates attending the Buy Zimbabwe Summit that government "had the good mind of making local goods appealing through stiffening the terrain for all locally available imports".
"We are seriously moving to cut rebates for all locally available goods. Exports are giving locally produced goods a hard time and as government we feel it makes a lot of sense to level the playing field," he said.
A traveller's rebate is granted once in a calendar month to a person entering Zimbabwe excluding crew members. It is meant to assist travellers to import goods for their personal use.
The rebate is limited to the value of $300. Goods for resale are not covered by the rebate. Alcoholic beverages that can be cleared under this rebate are limited in quantity.
However, if government implements this move, travellers will be forced to pay duty for all imported locally available commodities.
Meanwhile, Mike Bimha, the country's Industry minister, echoed Chinamasa's sentiments.
"There is the open general import licence to control importation of goods that can be sourced locally. We recently carried out a nationwide survey to assess ration of locally produced goods on their shelves and discovered that Zimbabwean products were not even on the shelves," Bimha said.
The Industry minister said local companies also had to boost their production as sometimes they failed to meet demand, leaving wholesalers with no choice but to import.
"We are really doing all we can for local companies. Rebates for manufacturers have been put in place. This is an incentive for these manufacturers to retool and recapitalise," he said adding that government had a cocktail of measures to help the county's manufacturing sector recover.
According to figures from the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, the country's manufacturing sector is currently operating at 36 percent capacity due to the prevailing difficult trading environment characterised by tight liquidity.
Source: Zimbabwe moves to scrap travellers' rebates (21/06/15)