Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa on Thursday presented his mid-term fiscal policy, taking measures aimed at protecting local industries and increasing government revenues, including an intended ban on shoe imports and second-hand clothes with effect from next month.
Chinamasa said despite high import duty the commodities, some of which posed health threats, a lot was flooding the local market and affecting the operations of local industries.
The minister also increased surtax charge on imported second-hand vehicles that are more than five years old. The move will push the cost of importing some cars to almost 100 percent as importers also have to pay 40 percent duty on such vehicles.
The minister said the income tax law will be amended to allow for the taxation of profit-making business activities of churches and related organisations.
Chinamasa said there was need for the country to have competitive labour laws saying the recent Supreme Court ruling that employers can fire workers without terminal benefits came at crucial time when the country is in the processing of reforming its labour laws.
He said labour laws should represent the interests of the both the workers and employees.
He said the rigidity of the labour laws is affecting production, adding that several companies that had stopped production like Ziscosteel were still accruing labour costs running into millions of dollars.
Chinamasa bemoaned government’s huge employment costs, chewing 83 percent of the total budget. Cabinet, he said, had taken a decision to reduce the employment budget to 40 percent of the total budget.
He revised revenue projections to $3.6 billion from $3.9 bilion, owing to the poor performance of the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
The minister expressed concern at increased in imports which went up to $3.1 billion in the first six months of the year.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president, Davison Norupiri, commended the minister’s measures, especially on labour and protection of local industries.
Confederation of Zimbabwean Industries president, Busisa Moyo, also applauded the finance minister for attempting to protect the local industry from cheap imports.