ZIMBABWE’S vehicle import bill took a major knock as it tumbled down by 73% to $3,99 billion (US$47,5million) generated during the first half of the year from $15,2b (US$181,3m) recorded during the same period last year.
The massive slump was highlighted in statistics availed by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) for the first six months of 2021.
Analysis of the statistics indicates that the vehicle import bill continued to fall at a massive rate between January and June this year as compared to the same period last year.
In January, the bill fell by 53,3% to $945,8m (US$11,2m) from $2bln (US$24,1m) followed by a 57% drop the following month to $969,6m (US$11,5m) from $2,2bln (US$26,8m) during the comparative period.
The cost of vehicle imports further decreased by 57,1% in March to $1,2bln (US$14,7m) from $2,9bln (US$34,5m).
By April, the bill depreciated by 71,9% as $733,5m (US$8,7m) was recorded against $2,6bln (US$31,1m) during the comparative first half of 2021 and 2020.
The vehicle import bill further took a 98,1% and 98% nosedive in May and June during the comparative period.
Only $48,5m (US$577,391) was recorded in May down from $2,6bln (US$31m) and $55,9m (US$665,541) from $2,8bln (US$33,5m) recorded in June.
The country’s tax collector attributed the decrease to the Covid-19 pandemic as only 10 865 vehicles were imported in the first six months of the year against 19 841 units imported during the same period last year.
“There is a decrease in imports across the categories which may be attributed to the global depression in trade caused by the current Covid-19 pandemic,” said ZIMRA head corporate communications Francis Chimanda.
However, more vehicles imports were recorded in 2020 as compared to the previous year despite the advent of the pandemic last year.
Apart from the pandemic cited by ZIMRA, the huge decline in the import bill was largely due to Statutory Instrument (SI) 89/2021.
The SI banned the importation of second-hand vehicles that were 10 years and older.
Central bank governor John Mangudya recently indicated the country had saved US$38,1 million from its huge import bill. The savings were recorded during the first four months of this year against the same period in 2020.