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MBABANE – Good times lie ahead for the tech savvy populace.

Swazis could soon surf the net with pricey gadgets purchased at low prices, following government’s undertaking to either remove or waive taxes on tablets computers and various ICT equipment. Removal of taxes such as Value Added Tax (VAT), which currently stands at 14 per cent, effectively means prices of ICT equipment could also be drastically reduced in the near future. The price reduction could primarily come about because there would be no need for retailers to pass on the cost of VAT to the consumer as it would have been scrapped altogether. The undertaking to remove taxes on ICT products by government, unpacked in the National Trade in Services Strategy, has been intended to foster investment in Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) devices and equipment by the general public and ICT firms. Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade Jabulani Mabuza explained that this move formed part of a series of initiatives that would be implemented by the State to improve trade in services and ultimately improve on the provision of more employment opportunities, poverty alleviation and ultimately improve the economy for the better.
“Taxes on tablets, computers and other ICT equipment will be removed or waived in order to foster investment in ICT devices and equipment,” reads the document in part.

To complement the high number of people that would be in possession of the ICT devices who could be in need of how to use them effectively, it has also been pledged that government would also implement its e-government strategy and put all departments online. “It (government) will first provide key government services online. This will be the biggest stimulus or boost to the ICT sector,” the strategy pointed out. Further, it has been mentioned that government could introduce tax or fiscal incentives for investing in the ICT sector, particularly for online businesses that would export their services. “The incentives will include waiver of the VAT on inputs to the sector such as telecommunications machinery and equipment and specialised business software,” it was explained. Asked to shed light in relation to how government would have to go about removing taxes on devices and providing tax incentives to improve the ICT sector, Swaziland Revenue Authority (SRA) Commissioner General (CG) Dumisani Masilela explained that various options would be put into consideration prior to implementation of the strategy. He said options included, but not limited to, rebates on importation of ICT equipment and provision of initial allowances to businesses.

Specifically in relation to taxes on tablets, computers and other ICT devices, Masilela explained: “legislation would have to be amended on the list of taxable goods under VAT.” Federation of the Swaziland Business Community FESBC President Tum Du Pont said the move by government to remove certain taxes to improve ICT was commendable. “This is a good move but should not remain as a document. There should be timelines allocated for the implementation processes if we mean business,” Du Pont advised. Federation of Swaziland Employers and Chamber of Commerce (FSE& CC) Marketing and Communications Coordinator Magman Mahlalela said the development of ICT would greatly improve the country’s rankings in the Ease of Doing Business.

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