The government has set aside $32 million for the automation of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) to reduce smuggling of goods and ensure privacy in the handling of businesses and personal information, Finance minister Tendai Biti said.
He said the automation will be implemented in phases.
Presenting his Mid-Term Fiscal Policy Review in Harare on Tuesday, Biti said the reform of tax administration was incomplete without automation, which enhances efficiency of policy and administration of taxes.
“A key benefit derived from automation is the provision of data to improve decision making, thereby strengthening service delivery,” said Biti.
Biti said automation minimises face-to-face interaction between tax officials and taxpayers, hence reducing rent-seeking opportunities or unethical conduct and also improving on communication.
“Automation enhances security which is necessary to ensure confidentiality of the tax system, since taxpayers have a legitimate expectation to privacy in the handling of their businesses and personal information they provide to the tax administration authorities,” he said.
The upgrade of the current system would see Zimra accommodating the demand for e-services.
The government has noted with concern the decline in demand for locally produced goods due to the influx of cheap imported goods, some of which are allegedly smuggled. As a result, local production has been adversely affected to the extent that manufacturers no longer have an incentive to produce.
He said the alleged smuggling had given rise to mushrooming of informal traders whose contribution to the fiscus remained minimal.
Biti urged Zimra to build capacity in the key areas of post- clearance audit, risk management, anti-smuggling and intelligence in order to support the compliance management framework.