Parliamentarians have rejected Minister of Finance and Economic Development Mthuli Ncube’s proposal to introduce a US$50 tax on imported cellphones. The minister announced the US$50 levy as part of the government’s revenue-enhancing measures during last week 2022 National Budget presentation.

According to the Finance Minister, he introduced the “Levy on New Cellular Telephone Handsets” to curb tax evasion. Ncube said the measure is necessary, arguing that there is rampant evasion of customs duty because mobile phones are easy to conceal and smuggle.

Imported mobile phones are supposed to pay a customs duty of 25 percent. The Finance Minister proposed that in future, the US$50 levy will be collected before registration of new cellular handsets by Mobile Network Providers. The minister said that the US$50 is refundable on the condition that the owner of the mobile phone can provide proof that they paid the requisite customs duty for the device. The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority will process the refund within 30 days of receiving the receipt from the mobile network operator.

However, MPs have pushed back against Mthuli’s proposal saying it is retrogressive given that the government is trying to promote e-learning and a digital economy. Some parliamentarians also insisted that they rejected the US$50 tax during the pre-budget consultation and were surprised to hear the Finance Minister announcing it.