Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Government has gazetted the Finance Bill that seeks to give legal effect to the various fiscal measures introduced by Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa when he presented his 2018 National Budget a fortnight ago. The Bill seeks to give effect to proposals on tax, value-added tax, customs and excise duties and mining royalties, whose proposals were made by Minister Chinamasa.
Parliament is set to debate the Bill and the 2018 National Budget when it resumes sitting today. One of the aspects that the Bill provides are sweeping changes to the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act. This is achieved by opening the bulk of sectors of the economy to investors of any nationality free from the current 51/49 percent indigenisation threshold in favour of Zimbabwean ownership.
The only exception would be in respect of platinum and diamond mining. The Bill would also give legal effect to three forms of amnesty pronounced by the Government. There is an amnesty in respect of funds and other property illegally expatriated before December 1, 2017, which was previously announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Another amnesty regards the unlawful hoarding of cash by traders, parastatals and money-lenders in breach of the Bank Use Promotion Act, where the breach occurred before December 1. The third is a tax amnesty that will waive interest and penalties on arrears of taxes and duties that became due and payable before December 1.
Clause Six of the Finance Bill stipulates that if a company wound voluntarily and the directors form another company, they would still be liable for the amount of tax due and payable by the old company. Clauses 16 up to 23 of the Bill cover the scope of amnesty being extended to persons.
“Subject to the conditions set out in this Part, when amnesty is granted for any covered tax, it shall preclude Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and the National Prosecuting Authority from prosecuting any offender or imposing administrative penalties for (a) false declarations or evasions of covered tax, (b) not having made the returns or payments of covered tax in due time, (c) non-payment of covered tax or non-submission of returns of covered tax and (d) fraud, negligence or wilful default with respect to covered tax,” read Clause 18 of the Bill.
The Bill also spells out those covered by the amnesty. “Any application for amnesty shall be invalid in respect of any action resulting in the seizure or forfeiture of any property or goods, which action commenced before the 1st December 2017,” reads Clause 20 of the Bill.