Government has drastically cut the duration of stay for foreign-registered vehicles temporarily imported into Zimbabwe by visitors and residents living abroad following abuse of the facility by local car dealers.
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said government reduced the maximum period under which the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) could permit such vehicles to stay in the country to three months from 12 months with effect from January 1 this year.
Foreign-registered private vehicles imported into the country by visitors are issued with a temporary import permit by Zimra upon entry.
“ . . . beneficiaries of temporary import permits should abide by set conditions, which include, an undertaking to remove the vehicle at the expiry of the temporary import permit and non-disposal of the vehicle within the country, among others, this, however, has not been adhered to,” Chinamasa said in the 2017 National Budget.
“Consequently, a significant number of motor vehicles under temporary import permits have not been acquitted, and some end up being disposed onto the local market, resulting in loss of revenue to the fiscus,” the Treasury chief said.
He also highlighted that Zimra was to develop a system that links motor vehicles issued with temporary import permits to the Central Vehicle Registry and the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration in order to deter registration of such motor vehicles.
Zimbabwe banned the driving of all imported motor vehicles in transit in November 2010.
However, local car dealers have been allegedly importing foreign-registered cars under the guise that they are temporarily staying during visit only to dispose of them locally without proper documentation to evade taxes and fees.
According to the Zimra website, motor vehicles in transit are not allowed on Zimbabwean roads following amendment of Section 234 of the Customs and Excise Act, which states that motor vehicles in transit must be transported on long-haul carriers with effect from November 1, 2010.
Meanwhile, government is mulling introducing conformity tests for Japanese vehicle imports in a move set top see all car imports being tested before they are allowed into the country.
Since 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. Daily News