Ex-minister raps Chinamasa’s new fiscal measures

Former ICT minister, Nelson Chamisa, has rapped Finance and Economic Development boss, Patrick Chinamasa, for re-introducing duty on imported mobile phones and announcing a new tax on airtime.

Nelson Chamisa
Nelson Chamisa

Chinamasa yesterday delivered his mid-term review statement in parliament and indicated that imported mobile phones would attract 25 percent duty.

In addition, he said, mobile airtime for voices and other uses would be taxed at five percent. The airtime tax will be effective from this month while mobile phone duty will be effected at the beginning of October.

Chamisa successfully pushed for the removal of duty on mobile handsets while he was minister during the 2009-2013 Government of National Unity GNU).

He argued that removal of duty would help improve access to mobile communication and since then, mobile telephone penetration has increased to more than 100 percent.

“At the stroke of a pen, Chamisa has reversed the gains of the GNU. We battled to increase mobile penetration to benefit especially the poor in both urban and rural areas, in keeping with modern trends, but the new punitive duty will undermine that,” Chamisa told The Zimbabwean.

He added: “It is folly to frustrate the free flow of mobile technology into the country because we don’t have the capacity to produce on our own. What Chinamasa and his government have done is anti-worker, anti-poor.”

Zimbabwe’s majority poor have welcomed mobile telephony as it has improved communication and made it easier for them to send and receive money as well as access information and news.

Chamisa described Chinamasa’s new measures as “brazen robbery”. Besides the new tax on airtime and duty on mobile phones, the Finance and Economic Development minister increased excise duty on diesel and petrol to 30 and 35 cents per litre, respectively, from 25 and 30 cents with effect from September 12.

Customs duty on imported vehicles and agricultural products will also increase. The moves will drive up prices and are feared to cause an upward spiral in inflation.

“You don’t rob poor Peter to purportedly pay poor Peter. In case, all these new measures will benefit the political elite,” added Chamisa.

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