In the Mid-Term Fiscal Policy Review Statement, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Patrick Chinamasa announced the deadline for the extension of the Fiscalisation Programme to Value Added Tax (VAT) registered operators in categories ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘D’ to the 1st January 2017. This was seen as moving with the times as most revenue authorities have automated and integrated their systems with taxpayers application packages. South African Revenue Authority (SARS) implemented a similar system as far back as 2008.
Though this fiscalisation programme is a noble idea, I was shell shocked when I went to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) offices after a tax clearance of a client could not be printed from the system. I was directed to the Invoice Management System (IMS) department, who indicated that the client needed to fiscalise first, at that point I indicated that non of the authorised suppliers had the fiscal device that was needed by the client in stock. I was then informed: “..just pay for it and come with proof of payment then we will unblock the account and that will allow the tax clearance to be printed…” That defies logic by all measure.
In a nutshell it was pretty evident that taxpayers who are reeling under a myriad of challenges stemming from a chronic liquidity crunch, low capacity utilisation and general stagnation of the economy; have to finance the operations of these so called “authorised suppliers” Why was it mandatory to buy from these specific suppliers who have varying prices (which is baffling to say the least) and almost all of them have no stock, which raises the issue of whether they had the capacity from the onset.
This poor behaviour from ZIMRA raises the ire of taxpayers as it seems to suggest that the current suspensions and firings are just a smokescreen. It sounds like replacing the old looting machinery with a new set of sophisticated looters. This is just too early, the wounds of the taxpayers haven’t healed yet, it seems the taxpayer is always on the receiving end. If this rot continues unabated, ZIMRA will eventually kills the goose that lays the golden eggs.