THE ZIMBABWE Revenue Authority (Zimra) has been rapped for fuelling the cost of fiscal gadgets which is militating against the country’s efforts to improve the ease of doing business.
As reported last week, the tax collector’s approved suppliers for fiscal gadgets are charging exorbitant and inflated prices for devices which can be sourced cheaper on the international market.
Some of the approved suppliers for fiscalised electronic registers, which are also referred to as electronic tax registers (ETRs), fiscalised printers and electronic signature devices (ESDs), are charging as much as US$1 700 for the gadgets. According to a Chinese and world’s biggest online commerce company that provides consumer-to-consumer, business-to-consumer and business-to-business sales services, alibaba.com, a tax cash register costs US$200 per unit.
Economist Kipson Gundani said the use of fiscalised registers was a world trend to enhance tax collection but the supply is not open hence the likelihood of creating cartels.
He added that Zimra should provide the gadgets and make deductions when companies pay taxes.
“What needs to be corrected is the price by opening up the supply. This can be done to correct the price. Authorities can make life easier for businesses through tax deductions, which is the same as Zimra paying for them,” he said.
Another economist John Robertson weighed in, saying government was not keen to reduce the cost of doing business and improve competitiveness in the country.
“Government keeps on talking of reducing the cost of doing business and yet they keep on increasing the cost. It’s a reflection that people in business cannot be held to account. This is very bad.”
He added, “It’s a tragedy for the country and must be corrected. People in government should be answerable to the exploitation of people. Their continuance in doing it shows that they are merciless on business.”
Government is facing an uphill task to improve competitiveness in the country. While seminars and workshops have been carried out, there is nothing to write home about as the country is still among the most expensive destinations to do business.
Zimbabwe scored 3,41 points out of seven on the 2016-2017 Global Competitiveness Report published by the World Economic Forum.
Zimbabwe’s overall rankings on the Global Competiveness Index (GCI) was 126 out of 138 countries in 2016-2017.
“Zimbabwe is destroying prospects of foreign investment. The capacity of companies to produce is being destroyed. Business should take suppliers to court for charging legally unjustified fees for the gadgets. There has been some kind of monopoly. It’s not surprising to find that a government official is connected to the supplier,” Robertson said.
Zimra board secretary and director of Legal and Corporate Services Florence Jambwa this week said the tax collector is not colluding with fiscalised register suppliers.
“Suppliers of fiscal devices are operating as independent business enterprises and their pricing model is not determined by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, neither has Zimra given the suppliers the mandate to supply the gadgets at a high cost as alluded to in your question. Basically, Zimra is continuously engaging the suppliers on the aspect of pricing to ensure the affordability of the fiscal devices for the successful implementation of the Fiscalisation Project,”
Jambwa said the process to approve suppliers of fiscal devices was transparent — done by a technical committee comprising various stakeholders who include economic associations and chambers, relevant government ministries, and Zimra.