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Realtors push for essential service status

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REAL estate agents are pushing to operate as essential services during the lockdown period, which is likely to be extended given the spike in Covid-19 infections.
In terms of Statutory Instrument (SI) 10 of 2021, institutions frozen out of essential services privileges can lodge applications for exemption with the government.

This follows the imposition of a 30-day hard lockdown, which took effect from January 5. In a letter dated January 11, 2021 addressed to the permanent secretary in the ministry of Industry and Commerce, Mavis Sibanda the president of the Real Estate Institute of Zimbabwe (Reiz), Alexander Millin, pleaded for exemption.

Millin noted that the real estate sector had not been designated as an essential service despite fitting into the government’s definition of professionals and artisan services that are vital in providing Covid-19 support.

“Essentially, the sector is an integral part of essential services such as finance, health, mining, agriculture, airlines, hospitality, and ICTs, which function within a built environment supported by the real estate sector,” said Millin.

“It is for this and other reasons that we are making a passionate appeal to the ministry of Industry and Commerce to be exempted from the lockdown…” Reiz lodged the application for exemption not only on behalf of its members, but other professionals in the field, represented by the Estate Agents Council of Zimbabwe (EACZ), the Valuers Council of Zimbabwe, the Construction Industry Federation of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Building Contractors Association, the Institute of Architects of Zimbabwe and the Engineering Council of Zimbabwe.

As part of their justification, they argued that the real estate sector in Zimbabwe employs over 100 000 people, with the construction sector alone being home to 30 000 wage and salaried jobs, including 20 000 self-employed.

The industry also contributes substantial revenues to the fiscus through various tax heads such as capital gains tax, property tax, value added tax, presumptive tax, income tax and pay as you earn. It also supports the built environment for industries classified as essential services.

As it is, realtors have been disabled from managing and maintaining shopping centres, industrial complexes, office complexes, hotel buildings and lodges, medical centres, and apartments for clients that are designated as essential services.

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