Friday, December 18, 2009

(TALKZIMBABWE, VOA) Biti proposes to tax Zimbabweans abroad

Biti proposes to tax Zimbabweans abroad
Thu, 17 Dec 2009 19:30:00 +0000

FINANCE Minister Tendai Biti has a new plan to raise funds - taxing those Zimbabweans who are living abroad. Minister Biti unveiled the plan in a national reconstruction report unveiled by Biti at a seminar at Manchester University, England, recently.

Around 3 million Zimbabweans are estimated now live abroad, many of them in South Africa and the UK. Biti's report added that expatriates should feel the government values them, so it proposes “confidence-building” steps including dual citizenship and absentee ballots.

Most left the country for economic reasons during the past 10 years, and together they send around US$1 billion home each year in remittances. Biti has now proposed a new migrant tax. He said the money could be used to fund the health and education sectors. If foreign-based Zimbabweans pay the tax, they will get to keep their citizenship and should also be allowed to vote in coming elections.

"Clearly this would be controversial but it could be a way for migrants to contribute directly to the state budget," the report states.

The report also addressed the longstanding problem of brain-drain, noting that many in the diaspora are professionals whose skills are needed at home.

"The inclusive government will need to find ways to lure them back (even for short periods) to share their skills and knowledge," said Biti's report.

"It is probably in these non-pecuniary remittances that Zimbabwe could gain the most," it continued. "The health and education sectors should be targeted most as these were the areas hardest hit by the brain drain."

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