via Cash exports bleeding country — Zimra April 9, 2014 in NewsDay by Veneranda Langa
ZIMBABWE Revenue Authority (Zimra) Commissioner-General Gershem Pasi yesterday told Parliament that the country was losing a lot of money through cash exports by travellers who were allowed a daily limit of $10 000.
Pasi said the department had already raised the issue with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to find ways of curbing movement of money outside the country.
He said most people were importing goods of no economic value to the country.
Pasi appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs led by Chipinge West MP Enock Porusingazi (Zanu PF) to speak on efficiency at border posts as well as promotion of regional integration and trade.
“There has been an influx of imports and for as long as our economy is not performing, people will continue to import,” he said. “But we will be discussing the issue with the new RBZ governor (John Mangudya) because we are concerned about exports of cash since the current regulations allow a person to take $10 000 cash per trip and there is no limit as to the number of trips one can take.”
Pasi said Zimra’s proposal was that there should be a monthly cap on the amount of money people are allowed to export.
He said the months of January to March, Zimra managed to exceed its quarterly revenue collection targets by 2%.
Pasi admitted there were incidents of smuggling, but said Zimra had now adopted a system whereby they rotated staff at border posts.
“It is said there are leakages of $7 billion worth of revenue from imports at ports of entry, but $4,1 billion worth of those are government imports which do not pay duty, while others are imports from bilateral agreements like Comesa. Last year we were at 29% of GDP (gross domestic product)in revenue collection and were amongst the highest in the world,” he said.
Pasi said Zimra continued to automate using Ascuda World as it reduced interface between the clearing agent and client. He said the authority had introduced an advance passenger manifest and was planning to use e-payment stringent systems for banks to qualify.
“We carry post-clearance audits to find out if goods were properly imported and not smuggled and in conjunction with the Airforce of Zimbabwe we imported pure breeds of sniffer dogs because the ones we had were now old, and they have been in operation for almost a year sniffing drugs and minerals,” said Pasi.
“We introduced electronic cargo tracking, and are working on a single window system whereby checks by different government departments are done once. We will also be piloting a project on automated revenue machines for self-service at points of entry.”
Pasi said only President Robert Mugabe was allowed to bring items duty-free. He said Zimra would soon pounce on more businesses and mega salary earners by issuing garnishee order for understating amounts of taxes they were supposed to pay.
On the establishment of a Ports Authority, he said at the moment government should prioritise improving infrastructure at border posts, especially Beitbridge which was in a bad state.
Pasi said government needed to compensate a contractor who had moved in and built temporary infrastructure there but was later stopped by former Finance minister Tendai Biti on issues of lack of clarity on clauses in the contract.