Government works on tax rebate to avert price hikes

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GOVERNMENT yesterday said it is now working on modalities to grant tax rebates across all sectors to prevent price hikes following fuel price increases effected at the weekend. The price of petrol rose from around $1,45 per litre to $3,31 while that of diesel increased to $3,11 from $1,38. Announcing the new fuel prices on Saturday night, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said Government would introduce a tax rebate for all registered business in the manufacturing, mining, commerce, agriculture and transport sectors to prevent commodity or service price increases.

The President said given these incentives, Government does not expect and will not allow, businesses to trigger a new round of price increases.

However, the transport sector increased fares by over 100 percent yesterday.

In an interview yesterday, Industry and Commerce Minister Nqobizitha Ndlovu said Government was finalising modalities on how the rebate system would be implemented.

He said he was also aware that the increase in fuel price has had an immediate impact on the transport sector.

“In the transport sector I think the rebate would be accessed by registered transport operators. It’s a matter of time before those in the energy department come up with proper guidelines on that. Somebody boarded a bus for $80 from Harare to Bulawayo so it shows that it was immediately felt in the transport sector,” he said.

“But the President did indicate in his statement that there would be a rebate for various sectors. Even bakers who are using fuel will have a rebate so that they don’t pass the increase to the consumer.”

Minister Ndlovu said Government departments would communicate the message to their stakeholders and quell speculations of how it will work.

“It just needs an efficient communication system. I would not be in a position to clarify on that, I think the Ministry of Information (Publicity and Broadcasting Services) and Ministry of Energy (and Power Development) are working on it.

“We are likely ourselves to just update our members tomorrow but we wait for official modalities. I think the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority could be involved as well,” said Minister Ndlovu.

He said those who increase their prices are not going to benefit from the rebate facility.

Commuter omnibus operators in Bulawayo yesterday increased fares by 100 percent and warned that another hike was imminent.

The kombi fares shot up from $1 to $2 for a single trip, drawing condemnation from commuting public who said the new fares were now out of reach as their salaries have not increased.

Some Bulawayo residents were also yesterday in a panic buying mode to stock up on groceries amid fears of further price hikes, following the fuel price increase.

Many supermarkets in the city centre were overwhelmed with customers who were buying products in large quantities.

“Normally when fuel prices go up, [prices of] everything else go up, especially basic commodities. Better having large quantities at home and save myself the hassle of moving from one supermarket to the other or buying from the streets at inflated prices,” said Ms Charlene Mpala from Northend.

An official at one of the supermarkets, who declined to be named, said their supermarket was packed with people buying commodities in large quantities.

“Our prices have not gone up but we recorded an increased volume of customers doing their shopping in large quantities. They have left some of our shelves empty.” he said.

Meanwhile, addressing a meeting of Government officials and other stakeholders in Plumtree last Friday Minister Ndlovu urged Zimbabweans to be confident in Government interventions as the country is undergoing a process of national economic transformation.

He said Government policies were part of austerity measures meant to revive the economy.

“I urge everyone to be confident in the policies set up to revive the economy. We need to believe in the leadership we have and its capability in transforming this economy. Let us be the first to foster unity of purpose,” said Minister Ndlovu.

“I get worried because every day I see people’s confidence deteriorating and it’s worrisome for the development of our country. If we work together and not sabotage each other, we can yield results in no time. Everyone has a responsibility.”

Minister Ndlovu said the international community is willing to help Zimbabwe.

“We are now in a period of National Economic Reconstruction. We came up with a 2-year economic blueprint, as opposed to other periods when we would come up with a 5-year blueprint, for example the ZimAsset. We did this so that after that we can come up with a robust economic growth framework,” he said.

“I can assure you that the international community is quite keen to help us out of this. The Minister of Finance attended the UK Parliament for the first time after a long time. President is going to Davos for the second time around and all this is proof that we are getting somewhere.”

The Minister urged all members of parliament, Government officials and communities to complement Government efforts to transform the economy.–chronicle.co.zw

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