AN International Monetary Fund (IMF) team of tax experts has completed a diagnostic assessment of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra)’s tax administration and pointed out areas where reform is required to bring it in line with international best practice.
BY FIDELITY MHLANGA
Senior economist in Revenue Administration and Fiscal Affairs department, Rebecca Sparkman, led the IMF team which conducted a Tax Administration Diagnostic Assessment Tool (TADAT) from September 10 to 25.
Zimra commissioner-general Faith Mazani revealed that the diagnostic assessment was done at the instigation of Finance minister Mthuli Ncube, who sees the technical assistance as key to the development of a new strategic plan for Zimra for the period from 2019 to 2023.
Launched in 2014, the current strategic plan is coming to an end this year.
“So, I will tell you the TADAT tool is actually very unique for different countries,” Sparkman said.
“We saw strengths and weaknesses in tax administration and it is up them (Zimra) to determine what the reform priorities are and where do they want to go with the plans to take Zimra to the next level of international good practice. We saw a high quality calibre of employees at Zimra and are capable to take Zimra to the next level.”
TADAT is a tool developed by multiple tax administrations around the world to look at what is good practice in different areas.
The diagnostic assessment will help Zimra seek technical assistance, funding and other forms of aid under the ambit of a co-operating partnership required to address challenges in priority areas.
“The team was using TADAT to look at evidence on the administration here in Zimbabwe to determine in different areas where do they match with the international practice,” Sparkman said.
“So this is a standardised objective tool that we apply that requires evidence to prove where they are in international good practice. So we are looking in different areas; where do they meet or exceed or maybe fall short of these standards of good practice in tax administration?”
Zimra is already reforming its tax administration within the framework of Zimbabwe’s “open for business” reform agenda.
Mazani said Zimra would use the IMF diagnostic assessment report to build on reforms already under way and to develop a baseline for its strategic plan.
Part of the reform effort includes staff development, which is key to Zimra’s broader aim to align its operations with international best practices.
“We are at a point where we are reviewing our performance within the current strategic plan, which is coming to an end by end of this year. It started in 2014. We are also in the process to developing our strategic plan from 2019 to 2023,” Mazani said.
“So we are going to embark on a reform programme and some of the areas the TADAT was looking at are in terms of our compliance, registration and the payment.
“The weaknesses that were identified are some of the things that we are aware of because our systems, our compliance levels are low. They actually indicated areas where are falling short against good practice.”