Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) commissioner-general Gershom Pasi told Parliament yesterday that the police and Zimbabwe National Roads Authority (Zinara) should hand over all the money they collect to Treasury.
He said that the current arrangement where the two institutions kept the money was susceptible to abuse.
“It is time we look at how we run our government finances and have all revenue go through one channel because $3 million to
$7 million is collected per month through roadblocks — and we are not talking of what goes into police pockets, but at the end of the month, Treasury wants money to pay salaries for the same police from Zimra, yet we do not get their collections accounted for.
“We also indicated it will not make good sense to have
another agency like Zinara collecting toll fees because they did not have the infrastructure to collect and now we hear they want to increase toll fees. It is another wasteful process and it was better to have our revenue co-ordinated in one place.”
Addressing members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget and Finance, Pasi said the country had lost at least $817 million in potential revenue through importation of duty-free goods during the first quarter of this year.
He said the figure represented 70% of total imports for the period under review.
The committee expressed concern over the matter, saying the issue of non-duty imports should be discussed with the Finance ministry as government was struggling to collect enough revenue to pay civil servants. Government’s monthly salary bill stands at $140 million.
“In 2013, the import bill stood at $7,169 billion of which $4,9 billion of that were duty-free imports and only $2,4 billion was dutable. And in 2014 during the first quarter the import bill was $1,375 billion and $817 million of that were duty free goods,” Pasi said.
He said most duty-free imports emanated from government importations, preferential trade agreements and removal in bonds and warehouses.
He said the smuggling of goods, especially clothes, was rampant at the country’s borders, but suggested duty on clothes should be removed because even big shops were importing — a sign that the local manufacturers were not performing.
He said $35 million was lost annually through leakages at Beitbridge Border Post due to poor infrastructure.
Pasi said for 2014, they had so far lost $817,86 million, adding he wanted immovable properties to be attached on tax defaulters.
On controversies surrounding his alleged mega salary, Pasi said a disgruntled employee trying to sabotage Zimra had cooked up the figures and disseminated them to MPs who brought up the issue before Parliament. He said the employee had since resigned from Zimra.
“The damage he caused was serious because people reneged from paying taxes for two days after the allegations were made. It is still a painful experience as I get money demands from relatives and friends who think I have money,” Pasi said.
He, however, did not disclose how much he earned and journalists were ordered to leave the House as some of the evidence he gave to the committee was in camera.