Scrap Tobacco Levy, Chinamasa urged

Source: Scrap Tobacco Levy, Chinamasa urged | The Herald November 23, 2016

Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter—
Farmers have urged Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa to scrap Tobacco Levy in the 2017 National Budget as the fund has not benefited them over the past two years.

The Budget will be presented on December 8.

When the levy was reintroduced, Minister Chinamasa said it would go towards conservation programmes. Government reintroduced a 1,5 percent tobacco levy on sales by growers in 2015 to finance reforestation activities.

The money was supposed to go towards training and awareness campaigns. Since January 2015, Tobacco Industry Marketing Board has imposed a levy on tobacco growers at the rate of $0,015 of each dollar of the selling price.

During the 2016 season, the levy was reduced to 0,75 percent. Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Mr Wonder Chabikwa said farmers were complaining that they did not see the intended use of the money.

“Farmers are demanding that unnecessary taxes be removed and we expect this to be rectified in the 2017 national budget,” he said.

The farmers also demanded that the budget goes according to the African Union declaration that 10 percent of the national budget be allocated to the agriculture sector.

Mr Chabikwa said this allocation was long overdue if the sector is to contribute meaningfully to the economy.

He urged Minister Chinamasa to introduce electricity subsidy.

“Since time immemorial, electricity for the farming sector was heavily subsidised. This was done for a good reason and that reason still exists now.

Zimbabwe Farmers Union director, Mr Prince Kuipa said farmers have always highlighted important factors that the budget should address to boost productivity in the agriculture sector.

“To improve productivity, the budget should ensure there is reduction of costs of production. Farmers should have access to funding and this can be achieved through different ways. Addressing the issue of land compensation will also help in ensuring foreign direct investment.

“Farmers are producing on contested land and few investors would want to invest under such an environment. It will be good if the budget addresses the issue of compensation so resettled farmers can have ownership of the land and investors will come,” he said.

“Farmers were given 99-year leases but this is not complete. The 99-year lease should be made bankable and transferable. Beneficiaries should get the titles for their land and have legal documents,” he said.

Mr Kuipa also said the budget should capacitate extension officers in terms of mobility and resources they use on duty.

He said some extension workers still required training.

“Marketing is also another important factor that should be addressed by the budget. The Grain Marketing Board has made improvements this year in the payment of farmers for the maize delivered and this should continue in 2017.

“Resources should also be allocated to water as there had not been meaningful interventions of the sector,” he said.


  • comment-avatar

    “title to land” is meaningless in Zimbabwe. Everyone knows that the land can be taken away at any time, be it 99 year leases or otherwise. There will be no FDI in agriculture when the investor does not own the land.