Proposed 30% import duty will choke omalayitsha: Phulu

Nkulumane legislator, Kucaca Phulu, has said the 30 percent import duty on informal traders without tax clearance certificates proposed in the mid-term budget review will choke cross-border couriers popularly known as omalayitsha.

Speaking during a debate on the mid-term budget review statement in the National Assembly Tuesday, Phulu said omalayitsha’s plight should be taken into consideration adding they are playing an important role in rural Matabeleland.

“I only have one point … “It relates to the intention on the part of the Minister to increase import duties for omalayitsha or people who import informally where they do not have tax clearance certificates,” said Phulu.

“We can see that it is an attempt to capture a certain market and we are saying, look, we are increasing the margin to 30%. I do not know whether in doing so, under normal circumstances yes, I think it is an incentive for people to formalise, have companies and tax clearing certificates but omalayitsha do not have companies and are not formal.

He further said: “By their nature, omalayitsha are informal but you need to consider what an integral part they are to the economy. If you go to rural Plumtree where I come from, those omalayitsha are actually doing part, if not a large part of the work on behalf of the Ministry of Social Welfare. They are looking after the elderly. They are a lifeblood and I think that 30% is too much. It will choke them and when it chokes them, the people who suffer are the recipients of those services that they offer.”

The legislator suggested that the proposal be relooked at.

“We think that there should be an amnesty of some sort to those people as they continue to offer an important service,” he said.

“Yes, we must try to encourage them to pay duty somehow, but certainly without choking and taking them out of the game altogether. That is my plea. I will speak about it again Mr. Speaker when we come to that clause in the Appropriation Bill.”

He added: “That is the one thing and perhaps another thing that I just want to underline is when a nation is in trouble, the economy is not doing well and people are hungry, we need to deal with their psychological issues in terms of mental health.”

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