Source: JUST IN: Farmers worry over double billing | The Herald February 20, 2019
Ellen Chasokela Herald Reporter
Farmers have called on Government to clearly state the ministry responsible for collecting land rentals to avoid double billing.
The farmers said they were paying rentals to the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement while local authorities that fall under the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing were also demanding the same.
The levy, initiated through the Finance Act No 8 of 2015 provides for land rentals of $3 per hectare, and $2 unit tax per hectare for A2 farmers while A1 farmers pay $15 annually.
Speaking during a land policy review workshop held last week, Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union (ZCFU) president Mr Shadreck Makombe said they had written to Government to address the issue and were still waiting for a response.
“It becomes an expense for a farmer with an average of 500 hectares to pay $2 500 land tax and also cattle levy to marketers and auctioneers,” he said.
“The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement should collect the money and forward it to Treasury which should then allocate it to the respective local authorities.
“Farmers are willing to pay the tax, but are concerned about how it is being used. They are complaining over lack of meaningful development in their areas in terms of infrastructure such as roads, clinics and schools.”
Zimbabwe National Farmers Union (ZNFU) chief executive Mr Edward Dune said the union appreciated the introduction of land rentals.
Mr Dune, however, said it was cumbersome for farmers to pay land rentals twice to the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement and to local governance offices.
“It is our view that Rural development levy be deducted from land rentals. The ministry should be capacitated to collect the rentals and levies for onward transmission to local authorities,” he said.
Mr Dune said other issues raised by farmers were corruption in the allocation of land which resulted in double allocations.
“Councils in some instances are issuing land permits in A2 farms resulting in double allocation and this is impacting negatively to productivity due to propelled litigation costs,” he said.
Mr Dune said it was the union’s view that the land policy should address the socio-economic issue of women empowerment and inheritance.
“The union recommends land transfer mechanisms, activated by death of a spouse, to be created and the technicalities be made known to the general populace,” he said.
“The bankability of the 99year leases is affecting agricultural growth. We expect 99 year leases to unlock the value of land thereby guaranteeing productivity.
“Financial institutions should have confidence in the bankability of the 99year lease and be able to financially support farmers to increase productivity.”