Monday, 17 December 2018

FOREX DUTY : 300 AGENTS LOSE JOBS


The policy to pay duty in foreign currency for imported cars introduced by Government three weeks ago has had a devastating effect on the border town of Beitbridge with 300 agents now out of business and a lot more downstream industries dying after cash dried up.

Sources who spoke to The Mirror said that the agents put together used to bring an average of US$20 000 in hard currency into Beitbridge on a daily basis but this income has since dwindled to as little as $1 500.

“As agents we cleared an average of 200 cars a day before importers were made to pay duty in foreign currency. We charge US$100 commission per car and we collectively earned $20 000 every day. After the introduction of the new policy, the number of cars that we clear has dropped to 15 a day and our collective income is now just US$1 500 a day. This is the money that now circulates in Beitbridge,” said an agent who declined to be named.

The sharp drop in the cash in circulation has also shaken the downstream industry including construction, hotels, retail and even air time vendors, said a source.

“There is just no business for car clearing agents in Beitbridge anymore. There are more than 300 agents and they are now looking for other things to do because the business of clearing cars is now dead. An agent could clear two or three cars a week but now one can go for three weeks without clearing a single car,” said one clearing agent.

The agents said they cannot even look after their families. “We are out of jobs and we cannot even look after our families; that is how badly the Government policy has affected us. It is not just us but everyone who lives in Beitbridge is affected. Everyone is affected and we don’t know how we are going to pay our bills or get food on the table,” said another clearing agent.

The Mirror understands that ZIMRA’s income through imported vehicles has plummeted by $27m in the last three weeks while about 24 of its workers at its vehicle warehouse who worked two shifts have become redundant because of lack of business.

Vehicles exempted from paying duty in foreign currency are those with an engine capacity of above 3000cc

Clevers Moyo, co-ordinator of Beitbridge Business Association said the introduction of the payment of duty in foreign currency has crippled the clearing industry. ‘‘It would have been better if Government had reduced tax because many people are going to lose jobs,” he said. Masvingo Mirror

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