The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority has demanded that Direct Fuel Imports Group Zimbabwe (DFIGZ) pay US$7 million to clear the duty arrears.
DFIGZ which is a grouping of small-scale fuel procurement firms has since approached the High Court seeking a relief order that will nullify Zimra’s demands.
Following promulgation of Statutory Instrument (SI) 161 in August, fuel importing firms are now obliged to pay duty in foreign currency but the DFIGZ says Zimra’s demand is void since the imports in question were shipped into the country before the legal instrument came into effect. Reads the application:
This is an application for a declarator and consequential relief in terms of Section 14 of the High Court Act (Chapter 7:06). The basis of the application is that the first respondent (Zimra) is acting unlawfully and is threatening applicant’s members with demands to pay duties on fuel imports in foreign currency retrospectively. The first respondent has no right to do so as the applicant’s members paid the duties in the Zimbabwean dollar equivalent on time and in full.
The total being claimed from the members of this class is in excess of US$7 000 000,00 as fully appears from the letters addressed to applicant’s members annexed hereto marked ‘C1-C7’. The first respondent is seeking this figure in addition to what applicant’s members have already paid in Zimbabwean dollars equivalent.
The conditions laid out by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) for applicant members to operate Special FCA Nostro Transitory accounts at the relevant period did not allow them to settle local liabilities in foreign currency. The RBZ only authorised local payments from Nostro accounts in circular number 3 of April 2020 in its Covid-19 mitigation measures.
DFIG further notes that section 4C of Statutory Instrument 212 of 2019 clearly indicates that transactions which can be done in foreign currency are payments of duty at ports of entry by individual travellers who opt to pay such duties in foreign currency.
The group further argued that by writing to specific members demanding payment in foreign currency, Zimra sought to “divide and rule” the group’s members.