MBABANE – The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is considering introducing a tax on imports from outside the regional body, in a move aimed at raising funds for the bloc’s programmes, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa has said.Addressing journalists after the Extraordinary SADC summit of Heads of State and Government here, Minister Chinamasa said though it was commendable that the regional bloc can now fund 54 percent of its budget requirements; more fundraising mechanisms are needed to attain financial self-sufficiency.
SADC has a budget of $75 million per annum and of that total, members are contributing 54 percent while the balance comes from co-operating partners.
Minister Chinamasa said the Ministerial Retreat that preceded the Summit agreed that if some of the proposed fundraising mechanisms are implemented, the region could wean itself from donors.
“We looked at the possibility of imposing taxes on imports especially on goods coming from outside the member countries. We then must determine the percentage, the eligible imports and exports will be levied if we so decide to impose levy on them.
“So we mandated the secretariat to do more work in this area to liaise with their counterparts in other regional economic groupings….,” he said.
Chinamasa however said it was deplorable that SADC is far from meeting its objective of economic cooperation and regional integration.
“When we compare ourselves with other regional economic groupings; we find that we are lagging behind and it is for this reason that we met,” he said adding, “Our progress towards regional integration is painfully slow.”
President Mugabe attended the one- day special Summit convened to; among other things consider the costed Action plan for the industrialisation strategy and roadmap 2015-2063.
Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha said over $100 million is needed to implement the industrialisation strategy.
“The costed action plan speaks to about $112 million to focus on activities that have to be done on a regional level. The member states still have to organise themselves to come up with their own budgets to look at the activities that they will be conducting at a national level,” he said.
Under the industrialisation programme, the 14-member group is targeting to deepen integration, increase intra-trade as well as boost export earnings and create jobs to alleviate poverty