Revenue dips as Zim economy dies

HARARE - The country’s dying economy resulted in the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) missing its 2016 revenue target by four percent.

The national tax collector only managed to raise $3,4 billion against projections of $3,6 billion, on the back of the country’s ever deteriorating economic conditions.

Zimra chairperson Willia Bonyongwe said yesterday that the slowdown in collections needed to be seen in the light of the official 1,2 percent GDP growth in 2016 compared to 2,7 percent in 2015, as well as the fact that Zimra’s collection projections had not been adjusted accordingly.

“The failure to surpass revenue targets in 2016 is largely due to the prevailing harsh economic conditions but, like indicated previously, in unwillingness to meet tax obligations by economic agents.

“Gross collections for the fourth quarter amounted to $893,89 million, which was 95,59 percent of the targeted $935,17 million. Net collections after deducting refunds of $50,15 million from the gross collections were $843,74 million.

“However, there was a 12,1 percent decline in net collections in the fourth quarter (of 2016) compared to the same period in 2015 and the most affected tax heads being Customs Duty, Excise Duty, Mining Royalties and Pay As You Earn,” she said.

Net collections for the year had also amounted to $3,248 billion, which was only 91,05 percent of the target.

“They were affected by an upsurge in refunds in the third and fourth quarters, and the authority is investigating what caused that surge,” Bonyongwe said, adding that net collections had gone down 7,22 percent compared to the same period in 2015.

The World Bank is among many authoritative sources which confirmed late last year that Zimbabwe’s economy was dying.

The Bretton Woods institution also promptly downgraded the country from its list of improved economies to the unflattering tier of struggling countries, as Zimbabwe’s political and economic turmoil continues to escalate.

Other fragile sub-Saharan states which were placed in the same “falling behind” group included Burundi, the Comoros, Guinea, Lesotho and Swaziland.

That vote of no confidence in the country came at a time that Zimbabwe’s worsening economic situation was witnessing President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF fighting hard to contain rising civil unrest, ordinary citizens confronted authorities.

Economic experts have also told the Daily News that contrary to the government’s propaganda, Zimbabwe’s economy is “definitely dying”, as manifested by ongoing liquidity challenges, company closures and job losses.

The experts also laid the blame for this undesirable state of affairs squarely at the door of Mugabe and his warring Zanu PF — while also lamenting the fact that the nonagenarian appeared “completely clueless” about finding solutions to the problems.

Economists also say Zimbabwe cannot afford a further contraction of the economy in 2017 as the country is already grappling with high unemployment, estimated at up to 95 percent — which has forced many, including university graduates, to resort to street vending for a living.

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