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Duty-free car import regulations tightened

by Staff reporter
06 Jan 2024 at 08:42hrs | Views
Updated regulations for duty-free vehicle imports by civil servants, public health workers, and junior and specialist doctors were gazetted at the end of last month to ensure that State workers in the applicable grades can benefit, without loopholes.

The scheme has been operating for some time and a lot of civil servants have benefited, but there have been some abuses and the updating of the regulations should close most of these.

The regulations are contained in Statutory Instrument 247 of 2023 gazetted on December 29 last year by Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube.

For civil servants and those employed by other service commissions, the rebate on duty was only for those who are not issued with a condition-of-service vehicle, thus excluding senior civil servants who do get a Government car as part of their package.

"A rebate of duty shall be granted in respect of one motor vehicle imported or taken out of bond by a serving public servant of Zimbabwe who is employed in the Civil Service and Service Commissions and who is not a senior civil servant issued with a condition of service motor vehicle and is not under any disciplinary proceedings,

"The money to buy the car has to be from either a loan availed under the Transport Purchase Fund managed through CMED (Private) Limited or the serving public servant's own resources. The car is solely for the private and business use of the serving public servant and not for commercial or trade purposes," reads part of SI 247.

For those in grades B and C, the vehicle should be valued up to US$2 500, for D and E the vehicle should be valued up to US$4 000 while those at Deputy Director level the maximum is US$10 000.

The civil servants should have been in Government's employ for at least 10 years while the vehicle should also not be more than 10- years-old from the date of manufacture.

For public health workers employed by the Health Services Board or grant-aided health facilities, including junior doctors, the service requirement drops to at least two years while the vehicles they can import should be valued between US$2 500 and US$15 000 with the latter being for specialist doctors.

And the buyers have to keep, not sell the cars. Beneficiaries under the duty-free scheme should not, "before expiry of five years from the date of importation of a motor vehicle, sell, offer or display for sale, lease or hire the motor vehicle to any other person in respect of which a rebate of duty on such motor vehicle was granted, without the prior written permission of the Commissioner (Zimra)."

Anyone selling the vehicle before the five years are up will have to pay Zimra the residual duty, including interest on the assessed duty.

To qualify for the rebate, the public servant must submit an application letter, a recommendation letter from the responsible Permanent Secretary confirming employment, a copy of the intended beneficiary serving public servant's driver's licence, a purchase invoice for the motor vehicle being imported and an approval letter from CMED for the loan in the case of funding from the CMED Transport Purchase Fund.

Meanwhile, Prof Ncube has also suspended duty for the import of buses by tour operators for the next two years.

The suspension is contained in Statutory Instrument 246 of 2023.

To qualify the tour operators must be registered with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and the Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe for at least two years or approved by the Minister responsible for Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion.

The bus must have a carrying capacity of eight to 55 passengers including the driver.

The beneficiaries shall be limited to import a maximum of five buses a year and cannot dispose of a duty-free bus for at least five years with Zimra's written authority and the payment of the duty that was suspended.

Source - The Herald
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