Zimra seeks to increase revenue collection

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By Taka Shambare
Harare (New Ziana) – The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) on Wednesday said it had initiated 12 “game-changing” projects through its 2021-2025 strategic plan to maximise tax collection and compliance, while also improving the country’s ease of doing business.

Zimra, which recorded ZW$161 billion in gross revenue collections in the fourth quarter of 2021, a figure 48.9 percent above target, contends that there is scope to collect more revenue, especially from the country’s huge small to medium enterprises sector.

Addressing a media interface, Zimra director strategy, research and innovation, Joey Shumbamhini said while the authority was implementing various transformational projects, twelve had been classified as strategic and these were being monitored at the executive and board levels.

The projects, he said, were part of of the authority’s five-year strategy and anchored on digitalisation.

Some of these included acquiring modern servers and setting up a centralised data center with the capacity to process huge amounts of data, and the integration of different systems within Zimra and also with selected external ones.

Zimra is also setting up a surveillance center in Harare, a key project which will help the authority fight corruption and smuggling while drones would also be deployed to monitor border areas.

“Zimra’s strategy is anchored on digitalisation where there will be systems automation, internal systems integration, and external systems integration. We want to transition from manual to automated processes, avoid manual as much as possible because we also believe that automation of processes will reduce corruption,” he said.

“These are game-changing projects, which we believe will change the future of Zimra and also change the future of taxpayers.”

Another key project, Shumbamhini said, is the introduction of a new domestic Tax Revenue Management System.

“Zimra is also in the process of acquiring a new Tax Revenue Management System (TARMS) for domestic taxes. This is a completely new system which is going to replace the current domestic tax system. This is a long-term project whose completion date is likely to be the end of 2023.

“Under this project, each and every person would have what is known as a Tax Identification Number (TIN), a unique TIN so it will change how taxes are paid because everyone will be accountable, businesses would also have a unique tax payer identification number. The project is being jointly funded by the African Development Bank and the government of Zimbabwe,” he said.

Shumbamhini said modern scanners were being acquired in phases up to 2025 for installation at border posts to improve efficiency, while a central customer services center to deal with client queries would be up and running by the end of this year.

All this, he said, was meant to improve tax compliance.

“Zimbabwe’s compliance culture is still very low, we believe there is a lot of revenue out there that is available for collection, we also believe there are a lot of people out there who are supposed to be paying taxes but are not paying out of ignorance or out of delinquency. We should work together to ensure that everyone contributes to the fiscus,” Shumbamhini said.

Zimra acting director, finance, Lloyd Karonga explained the source of funding for the projects.

“For the year 2022, the authority received a budget allocation of ZW$6.1 billion. This ZW$6.1 billion to narrow it down to the presentation that was done, maybe we take about ZW$1.3 billion which leaves us with ZW$4.8 billion being resources available to support the (12) projects. This strategy started in 2021 with a ZW$4.3 billion budget.

“(However), what I can say is the downside of this funding is that this money is coming in local currency and we are all quite familiar with the happenings on the exchange rate market, the auction market versus the parallel market, and that has got a huge impact on what that budget will be able to produce at the end of the day,” he said.

Meanwhile, Shumbamhini said, as part of its strategic plan, Zimra was also constructing staff and office accommodation particularly at the borders.

A Zimra head office was also being built in Harare.

“The construction of dry ports is another exciting project which is very strategic to the nation. The authority is looking at the construction of inland dry-ports to de-congest borders. The authority is starting with Makuti, Mutare, and then Bulawayo and Masvingo. This is a phased project which will run up to 2025. Makuti is actually underway and Mutare there is some work being done there,” he said.

“We want to support the government through improvement of ease of doing business.”

Speaking at the same event, Zimra acting commissioner general Regina Chinamasa said over the past 20 years, Zimra has re-configured the taxation and customs terrain resulting in efficient and effective revenue collection for the government.

“Zimra has steadily improved its tax administration by increasing tax payer outreach and raising the number of taxpayers by providing better services through fiscalisation, e-services, and improving the use of risk management in conducting its tax payer audits,” she said.

“In the past 20 years, Zimra managed to surpass revenue targets set by the government and missed only four times in 2001, 2009, 2014, and 2016.”
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