Elita Chikwati, Harare Bureau
AGRICULTURE, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made yesterday met Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa to try and resolve the disenchantment among farmers caused by the introduction of a 10 percent tax.
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) last week effected the 10 percent tax on farmers without valid clearance certificates and this was supposed to start on March 31.
Dr Made yesterday said the two ministries had resolved the matter and farmers would be informed of the new developments tomorrow.
He urged tobacco growers to continue delivering their crop to the floors and said they should not be afraid as the issue had been resolved.
“Farmers made a plea to Government,” he said. “Zimra is acting within the confines of the law and should not be blamed. We had a discussion with Minister Chinamasa and I am pleased that we have amicably resolved the matter and reached an agreement that is expected to satisfy both farmers and Zimra.
“We will give farmers details on Wednesday. Farmers should go on with their business. Tobacco should continue to come to the floors, especially now as we are approaching the Easter and Independence Day holidays.”
Dr Made said the e-marketing facility should not interfere with tobacco marketing and farmers should not be delayed by the process.
He urged the farmers to open bank accounts, as this was a requirement of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
Tobacco farmers continued to sell their crop yesterday and the 10 percent tax deductions had not been implemented at all auction floors.
Boka Tobacco Auction Floors operations manager Mr Moses Bias confirmed that sales went on well as usual yesterday and farmers did not have their money deducted.
“There have not been any changes on the tobacco sales or deliveries because of the announcement of the 10 percent tax,” he said. “Farmers sold as usual and deliveries have since increased.”
Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union president Mr Wonder Chabikwa said Zimra had the mandate to collect revenue, but the imposition of the 10 percent tax was going to affect most small holder farmers and also bring back middlemen to the tobacco sector.
He said if implemented, the move could have resulted in Zimra and farmers not getting meaningful revenue, while middlemen who had tax clearance certificates could benefit.
“The timing of the tax was not good,” he said. “The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe had introduced a five percent export incentive facility to motivate farmers to improve on quality and quantity of the crop, but the introduction of the 10 percent tax will erode all these efforts.
“The tobacco sector is one of the lucrative sector and such moves may destroy the industry. It does not help to kill the hen that lays the golden eggs.”
Tobacco is an important crop in Zimbabwe and has helped to enhance the livelihoods of thousands of farmers across the country and earns 30 percent of the country’s foreign currency, bringing in over $600 million.
Nearly 100 000 farmers engage in tobacco production, while close to one million people are directly dependent on the “golden leaf”.
Article Source: The Chronicle