THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) could have lost millions of dollars in the past two months following glitches in its information technology system which threatened to cripple financial transactions.
Zimra sources said the ASYCUDA world system has been up and down since December, causing tax clearance delays for business.
Bank transfers, in some instances, are taking more than two days to be verified and confirmed due to the malfunctioning ICT system.
Zimra admitted that the system disruptions negatively impacted on business.
“The challenges on the domestic taxes system indeed have negatively impacted service delivery. Mitigation steps have already been taken and are bearing results whilst the system is attended to,” Zimra spokesperson Francis Chimanda said.
The taxman, however, shifted the blame on other service providers, particularly banks.
But Zimra issued a press statement apologising to clients for challenges on its e-services system.
Zimra said the system was congested as businesses were applying for new tax clearance certificates at the beginning of the year.
“The payment system has not been down at any point since December. Some transactions fail to post online not because of system challenges but due to human error where payments are submitted without correct business partner numbers, correct tax obligations or correct assessment numbers in the case of Customs Y,P,N, and H assessments,” Chimanda said.
“These human errors will in turn require the manual intervention by our staff to enable them to post. In addition, we sometimes experience challenges with banking platforms that will be offline. In instances where the banking platform is offline, such transactions will be processed manually the next day after the date of transacting.”
However, it is understood that the Zimra server suffered a huge glitch and lost key data used to calculate taxes of some major retailers.
This, insiders say, has left the tax collector resorting to estimates, potentially losing millions in tax revenue.
The server problems has created challenges for companies in compliance to easily access tax clearance certificates.
As a result of system failures, Zimra shifted compliance deadline for tax clearances from December 31, 2020 to end of January.
The taxman was forced to move it again from January to February 28, 2021.
The systems failures fly in the face of a five-year digitalisation plan to mordenise networks to suit new world standards.
This strategy, according to Zimra, will introduce new systems while existing ones are updated for clients’ convenience.
ASYCUDA World is a system designed to automate customs collection and improve accuracy.
It was adopted as the official tax collection system in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) region.
Zimra is mandated to collect taxes on behalf of government – which largely feed from an over-taxed populace.
Manufacturing, mining and agriculture are low and government has limited sources of income and its budget is sustained by high taxes against citizens and business.