By Yeukai Karengezeka
The High Court has ordered the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority to refund Benchman Investments (Pvt) Ltd $545 058 it paid 14 years ago as unjustified duty-fee for its imported vehicles.
Benchman Investments through its managing director and Harare top lawyer Mr Jonathan Samukange cited the Commissioner General, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) as respondents.
Justice Webster Chinamora granted the order of refund but said he was unable to grant the amount claimed in United States dollars because of the recent Supreme Court ruling.
The ruling declared that a debt owed in United States dollars (US$) incurred on or before February 22, 2019 should be discharged by paying in local currency, at the rate of 1:1.
He also ordered Zimra to pay the interest at the prescribed rate of 5 percent per annum from September 2002 to date of full and final payment and also to pay the cost of the suit.
Benchman Investment lawyer Advocate Sylvester Hashiti told the court that in June 2002, the company bought 30 vehicles from Japan which arrived in Dubai on 29 July 2002 and got imported into the country on August 5 the same year.
Then on August 2, the then Finance Minister introduced Statutory Instrument 225 of 2002 which designated the rate of ZW$300 to US1 as the selling rate for some of the imported goods including motor vehicles.
This resulted in the firm paying a duty of $36,5 million as opposed to $6,5 million if the old rate was applied.
The company filed an urgent chamber application with the High Court seeking a refund arguing that the imposed duty was not in accordance with the Customs and Excise Act. The Herald