Africa-Press – Zimbabwe. Economist Professor Gift Mugano says the proposal by the Minister of Finance, Economic Development, and Investment Promotion Mthuli Ncube to allow only traders registered for VAT purposes and in possession of valid Tax Clearance Certificates to procure goods from manufacturers is aimed at saving established supermarkets from collapse.
Mugano said if the proposal is adopted by Parliament, more than six million people who are making livelihoods from buying and selling will be negatively affected.
In his 2024 National Budget presentation on Thursday, Ncube said:
To restore the supply chain from the manufacturer, wholesaler to retailer, I propose that only licensed and Tax Compliant Operators procure goods from manufacturers and wholesalers.
In addition, I, therefore, propose that only traders registered for VAT purposes and in possession of valid Tax Clearance Certificates be eligible to procure goods from manufacturers.
I, further, propose to review downwards, the VAT registration threshold to US$25 000, or local currency equivalent, with effect from 1 January 2024.
Enterprises that meet the above threshold should, thus, register and account for VAT, failure of which applicable penalties will be invoked.
Responding to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Ndavaningi Mangwana, who had said small-scale retailers should either “formalise or fold up”, Mugano said:
In my view, this proposed policy aims to save established supermarkets from collapse at the expense of 6 million people who are making livelihoods from buying and selling.
In your view, you are convinced that a trader without a VAT certificate is informal? Most of the traders buying from manufacturers are already formalized – securing a VAT is not the only ticket to formalization.
Are you aware that these traders make sales amounting to US$500 per month which makes it difficult for them to hit US$25 000 required for them to get VAT certificate?
Again, in your view, do you think that when you shut them out of the local manufacturing sector they will fold their hands and die?
There are high chances that they will smuggle goods into the country whilst our own manufacturing companies will be closing down as sales take a drastic fall. Is this what you want to achieve as a government?
Have you ever put a thought on how products like beer, bread and ice cream are sold? Sales of these commodities are moved by traders who can’t qualify for VAT certificates, not supermarkets.
So, what is going to happen to both traders and manufacturers of these commodities?