Revenue leaks should be tightened

THE call by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) commissioner-general Gershem Pasi for the Zimbabwe Republic Police to hand over all the money they collect from roadblock fines to Treasury is a noble one.

NewsDay Editorial

The same must also apply to the Zimbabwe National Road Authority (Zinara) tollgate fees across the country.

While there may be reservations by the public over Pasi’s sincerity on the administration of the monies from the two State institutions, it is important that every cent is accounted for to boost government coffers. It is erroneous that even though the police force is collecting up to $7 million monthly from roadblocks, nothing is remitted to Treasury yet the generality of the civil servants, including the ZRP, would expect Treasury to raise money for their salaries.

Accordingly, Pasi’s observation that all the $7 million raised through roadblocks is going into police pockets yet at the end of the month, Treasury wants money to pay salaries from Zimra, yet they do not get their collections accounted for is valid.

Zimbabweans will remember that ex-Finance minister Tendai Biti always complained during the life of the Government of National Unity that diamond revenue, traffic fines and Zinara tollgate fees were not being channelled into government coffers; he was ignored.

At least Pasi and Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa have seen light. Given that Chinamasa is also troubled, he must push to bring sanity to State apparatus. The economy is no child’s play and it is hoped that the government will heed the Zimra call if the liquidity crisis is to be eased.

Allowing individuals to divert financial resources meant for the country is indistinguishable from sabotage hence the current arrangement where two key institutions — ZRP and Zinara — keep the money is susceptible to abuse.

This rot by State actors, including at Zimra, must be stopped forthwith to allow the country to move on. What is happening is tantamount to holding the country to ransom for the benefit of just the privileged few. What a shame!

Complaints about police malfeasance are wide and varied; and that ZRP has given traffic officers a target to raise at roadblocks is sad as it smacks of a grand scheme meant to benefit just, but a few individuals. What is even surprising is that roadblock proceeds were now being used to reward police officers for their performance.

It is important to note that setting targets for the officers simply encouraged overzealousness hence Cabinet must come up with rules governing the appropriation and use of the fines collected through traffic infractions.

If anything, the bonus for traffic police should be listed as an item in the fiscal budget. In addition, it will also not make good sense to have Zinara collecting toll fees because they do not have the infrastructure to collect yet they want to increase toll fees.

Isn’t this another wasteful process? As a result of the haphazard manner Zinara and ZRP were dealing with national finances coupled with other lax regulations to do with imports, government has lost at least $817 million in potential revenue through importation of duty-free goods during the first quarter of this year.

Government must also close the loopholes by dealing with the issue of non-duty imports as government is struggling to collect enough revenue to pay civil servants. Government’s monthly salary bill stands at $140 million.

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