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Government scraps import duty on newspapers

(MISA/IFEX) - The government has scrapped the 40 percent import duty on foreign newspapers distributed in Zimbabwe in a move to allow Zimbabweans access to diverse sources of alternative information. Minister of Finance Tendai Biti announced the scrapping of the import duty on 16 July 2009 while presenting his ministry's half-year fiscal statement and revised budget to parliament.

Imposed in June 2008, the duty was criticised by media groups as limiting the circulation and distribution of foreign newspapers. "The Zimbabwean" and "The Zimbabwean on Sunday" weeklies published abroad by exiled Zimbabwean publisher Wilf Mbanga, have reportedly forked out R2,85 million (approx. US$8,000) in import levies since June 2008 to get their newspapers into Zimbabwe.

MISA-Zimbabwe welcomed the scrapping and said it is a progressive move to free flow of information. It appealed to government to again boldly step forward to free the media space by repealing repressive legislation such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and Broadcasting Services Act (BSA) to allow the entry of private players and investors in both the private and broadcasting sectors.

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