Zimbabwe Slaps Luxury Tax on Panties

Chris Muronzi, News 24 (South Africa), September 18, 2007

Love women in hot panties or tight sexy jeans? If so, Zimbabwe is not your ideal place.

This is because hot panties could now be a thing of the past in Zimbabwe after the foreign currency starved Zimbabwean government added underwear and lingerie to the list of luxury items now attracting a foreign currency duty.

A statutory instrument, the Customs and Excise (Designation of Luxury) amendment notice that came into effect last Friday expanded the list of what the embattled government deemed as “luxury items”.

Although Zimbabwe released a list of literally hundreds of other products that will be considered luxury items, and for which duty in foreign currency will have to be paid, the inclusion of underpants was an extraordinary one.

Footwear and underwear for both men and women described vividly in detail; names bras, panties, hosiery, and even girdles, veils, gloves and ties.

The list did not however include cuffs, whips and blindfolds.

Duty for all types of carpeting, “refrigerators of a household type”, cookers, bed linen, blankets—excluding, surprisingly, electric blankets—will also be charged in foreign currency.

According to the instrument, duty for most clothing will be charged at 60% of its value, plus at US$10 per kilogramme. Goods such as bed linen will attract duty of 50%, plus the US$10 per kg.

Fridges and cookers will be charged at 60% and US$45 per item.

The new instrument was gazetted after Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi said he would expand the list of goods attracting a foreign currency duty a few weeks ago during his supplementary budget presentation.

This comes after President Robert Mugabe’s government earlier this year slapped foreign currency duty payment on the importation of motor vehicles, saying cars were luxury items, and that their importation was hurting the local motor industry.

The move to impose a foreign currency duty was meant to bolster foreign currency revenue while discouraging motor vehicle imports.

Zimbabwe is facing a severe shortage of foreign currency after the IMF withdrew Balance of Payments support after the troubled government refused to live by the fund’s rules.

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