By Kudzai Kuwaza
THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) collected a net revenue of $23,19 billion against a target of $18,60 billion for the year ending December 31 2019 amid inflation and foreign currency challenges during the period.
Zimra vice board chairperson Josephine Matambo said the operating environment throughout the period had been challenging at a time there was a 6,51% decline in gross domestic product, leading to the informalisation of the economy.
“Real income levels deteriorated causing erosion to the tax base. It is not easy to collect revenue from the informal sector,” Matambo said in the statement that accompanied the results for the year ending December 31 2019.
She revealed that Zimra had managed to register real net revenue growth of 13,55% with the revenue foregone from goods and services that are either value-added tax (VAT) zero-rated or exempt being $13,82 billion and revenue foregone from trade agreements and duty exemptions amounted to $3,19 billion. The value of imported goods in 2019 was $43,51 billion which was a 541% nominal growth from December 2018 and the value for exported goods during the period was $39,54 billion which represents a 846% nominal growth from December 2018. The total number of taxpayers on the taxman’s database increased by 14% to close at 172 497 as at December 31 2019. VAT refunds for the period amounted to $709,37 million for the period under review.
She said the taxpayer operated in an environment in which year-on-year inflation increased from 42,1% in December 2018 to 521% in December 2019.
Matambo pointed out that currency challenges hampered the tax collector’s operations. “The market had to adjust to the requirement for contracts to be denominated in local currency, resulting in delays in, concluding procurement contracts, particularly those that had an import component,” Matambo said.
She said as part of efforts to plug revenue leakages, the authority had partnered the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission in staving off incidents of graft.
“This was in addition to the enforcement audits and investigation functions which saw some high-profile cases being arraigned through the courts for tax avoidance and evasion, including non-submission of tax returns,” Matambo revealed.
On improving the ease of doing business, Matambo said the taxman had initiated a robust automation programme and had begun the process of acquiring a modern tax and revenue management system. She added that on the customs side, mandatory pre-clearance of commercial cargo at ports of entry was implemented and an electronic system for temporary import permits for visiting motorists was introduced.
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