Zimbabweans wishing to import cars could be forced to part with at least $200 on an import permit as the cash-strapped Zanu PF-led government desperately seeks various ways to boost its empty coffers.
Information gathered by the Daily News this week reveals that the ministry of Industry and Trade is currently working on a motoring policy aimed at tapping into the hugely-popular used car imports by levying an additional fee on potential buyers.
“The ministry is currently finalising the draft policy document which would still have to go through the normal processes before it is gazetted,” said sources close to the development.
The sources noted that the policy was likely to be acceded to without any hassle because the government is desperately in need of additional funds.
The planned policy development by government is likely to increase the cost of car importation into the country after Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa recently indicated that car import duty would be significantly increased with effect from November this year.
Used cars import duty currently stands at an average of 85 percent of the value of the vehicle.
Since the introduction of the multiple currency system in 2009, Zimbabweans have resorted to importing second-hand vehicles, mainly from Japan, as they are cheaper than those assembled locally.
However, there have been persistent calls by local car manufactures to ban used car imports, which they say have contributed to the demise of the local car industry.
Industry minister Mike Bimha, who has in the past also blamed the woes of struggling car assembler Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries and Quest Motors on the hugely-popular and affordable used cars, professed ignorance of the regulation on the motoring policy.
“I cannot comment on policies that I have not announced. I have never issued a statement on that, but we are working on a motoring policy, which is still work in progress,” Bimha said in response to a Daily News inquiry.
According to the Zimbabwe National Road Administration , Zimbabwe’s vehicle population now stands at
1,2 million, up from about 800 000, the bulk of them being grey imports.
Zimbabwe continues to battle a trade deficit, with exports totalling $1,2 billion compared to $1,5 billion last year during the period January to June, with imports for the first half of the year relatively high at $3 billion compared to 3,9 billion prior year.