Duty re­bate for trav­ellers in buses tow­ing lug­gage trail­ers

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Daniel Ne­mukuyu

PEO­PLE trav­el­ling in buses tow­ing lug­gage trail­ers are now en­ti­tled to the $200 re­bate on cus­toms and ex­cise duty that is en­joyed by oth­ers who use pri­vate ve­hi­cles and buses with­out trail­ers.

The Gov­ern­ment, in line with the Con­sti­tu­tion, re­cently amended Statu­tory In­stru­ment 148 of 2015 which took away that priv­i­lege from peo­ple trav­el­ling in cross-bor­der buses tow­ing trail­ers.

In terms of SI 148 of 2016, trav­el­ling in a bus draw­ing a trailer au­to­mat­i­cally clas­si­fied one as a trader, who was not en­ti­tled to en­joy the priv­i­lege of the re­bate.

This was de­spite the fact that 90 per­cent of cross-bor­der buses tow lug­gage trail­ers be­cause there is an­other le­gal re­quire­ment bar­ring the use of tra­di­tional rooftop lug­gage car­ri­ers.

Cross-bor­der trans­port op­er­a­tors and trav­ellers queried the dis­crim­i­na­tive im­pli­ca­tions of the law and lodged com­plaints with the Min­istry of Fi­nance and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment.

They cried foul over loss of busi­ness as trav­ellers were now shun­ning their buses.

Among the most vo­cal groups was Jay Jay Travel and Tours, which wrote to the min­istry ar­gu­ing that the law was dis­crim­i­na­tive and un­fair on the part of bona fide trav­ellers who find them­selves in buses draw­ing trail­ers.

Through SI 126/2016, gazetted on Oc­to­ber 21 this year, Fi­nance and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Pa­trick Chi­na­masa amended the law to en­sure trav­ellers are not dis­crim­i­nated based on the type of ve­hi­cles they use when cross­ing bor­ders.

Min­is­ter Chi­na­masa amended Sec­tion 114 (4) (k) of SI 154 of 2001 and in­serted a new pro­vi­sion that en­sures gen­uine trav­ellers are not judged to be traders based on the mode of trans­port they use when cross­ing bor­ders. The pro­viso reads: “Pro­vided that this sub­sec­tion shall not ap­ply to goods im­ported by bona fide trav­ellers and are be­ing im­ported in trailer draw­ing om­nibuses and other pas­sen­ger car­ry­ing ve­hi­cles draw­ing trail­ers”.

This means if one is a gen­uine trav­eller, he or she is en­ti­tled to the $200 re­bate on duty de­spite the type of trans­port used.

In terms of SI 148 of 2015, trav­ellers in pri­vate ve­hi­cles and those in buses that do not have trail­ers can en­joy the re­bate on their im­ported goods at the bor­ders, but those in buses pulling trail­ers are re­garded as traders who are not en­ti­tled to the re­bate.

Jay Jay Travel and Tours, which op­er­ates cross-bor­der buses, in­structed its lawyer Mr Alex Ma­jachani of Mberi Chimwa­murombe Le­gal Prac­tice to write to Min­is­ter Chi­na­masa.

The lawyers threat­ened to sue Gov­ern­ment over the piece of leg­is­la­tion if the Statu­tory In­stru­ment was not struck off.

Gov­ern­ment promised to look into the mat­ter and re­spond to the trans­port com­pany.

In­stead of re­spond­ing to Jay Jay, Gov­ern­ment re­solved to amend the law for the ben­e­fit of the gen­uine trav­ellers and all the trans­port firms.

The com­pany wanted Gov­ern­ment to re­visit the law and amend it or com­pletely re­move it from the statutes.

In a let­ter of de­mand au­thored by Mr Ma­jachani, Jay Jay Travel and Tours gave the Min­istry of Fi­nance a 14-day ul­ti­ma­tum to ei­ther struck the law off or to amend it in line with the supreme law of the coun­try.

Min­is­ter Pa­trick Chi­na­masa

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