Import Duty on Books disturbing

(The introduction of import duty on books is likely to affect libraries collection development programmes, efforts to sustain the reading culture and literacy initiatives in Zimbabwe.)

Zimbabwe Library Association expresses concern over the introduction of import duty on books recently introduced by the Ministry of Finance which took effect on September 1. This contravenes the Unesco Florence Agreement which was opened for signature in 1950. Zimbabwe conceded to the agreement in 1998. The agreement facilitates the free importation of educational, scientific, and cultural materials by removing barriers that impede importation of such materials.

The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) put into effect the import duty on September 1 according to the Statutory Instrument 92 of 2015. According to The Herald of September 23, 2015, the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, Prof Jonathan Moyo has since written to Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa seeking the reversal of the increase.

The increase has come after the world celebrated International Literacy Day on September 8 under the theme ‘Literacy and Sustainable Societies’ dedicated to explore critical relations and synergy between literacy and the future Sustainable Development Goals.

The move to charge import duty on books is likely to have severe impact on library collection development efforts, literacy campaigns, reading clubs and reading culture. It is further expected to heavily affect the schools book purchase schemes and increase book piracy activities.

ZimLA hope that the Minister of Finance and Economic Development will take this matter seriously and do the needful.