The Sunday Mail
OPINION on the merits of adopting electronic fiscal devices remains divided within the business community four years after the undertaking was made mandatory by Government.
Although the devices are now increasingly being used by some local retail companies to tighten their internal control processes, other businesses maintain that the exercise is expensive and will further burden their already struggling enterprises.
This is despite the fact that Government provides a tax rebate for their importation in order to cushion the market from costs associated with purchasing the tilling point gadgets.
Government has spent an estimated US$10 million through tax rebates since the launch of the project in August 2010.
Various excuses continue to crop up. There have been questions surrounding the capacity of the suppliers – Axis Solutions and First Printers – to satisfy market demand, the quality of the registers and problems relating to the system interface with companies’ internal software and hardware.
Government even had to intervene to broaden the list of suppliers, but business is still not happy.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) president Mr Hlanganiso Matangaidze opines that whatever solution Government will implement, it must not lump an additional cost to businesses.
“Zimra bulldozed this programme on us and we complied. It was expensive and we did not benefit from it. The idea was for Zimra to monitor businesses, not the other way round. If they intend to review it, I hope whatever plan they have will not require businesses to pump out more money because we have already done so.
“We hope we can engage and give each other feedback on what we expect too as business because we are not averse in assisting Zimra fulfil its mandate. It is the liquidity crunch that is biting businesses,” he said.
ICT suppliers have a different view.
They contend that the initiative will benefit both Zimra and businesses.
“The system (if implemented) would help businesses in complying, despite the cost burden. But now there is a forum (Zimra to Business Forum) that will enable us to have dialogue and give feedback to the authority.
“With the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) revolution, there is opportunity to tap into this market and improve revenue collection, and it may help both parties,” explained ICT Suppliers Association chairman Mr Harold Muvuti.
Players in the shipping and forwarding business hold a similar view, emphasising that small and medium scale enterprises might actually benefit from the system. Government is currently finding it difficult to channel informal businesses into the mainstream economy.
The bulk of SMEs still remain outside the tax bracket. Market watchers say Government has the potential to markedly increase its revenue generating potential by compelling small-and medium-sized businesses to comply.
Mr Joseph Musariri,chief executive officer of the Shipping and Forwarding Agents Association of Zimbabwe, believes that firms that dislike the exercise are bent on evading the taxman.
“Fiscalisation was good and we welcome developments that improve accountability and ensure businesses are compliant to tax laws.
“The system allows you to be very accountable in your business. . .
“But this programme brings orderliness in business. Those who dislike it are the ones who do not want to be compliant in tax payments,” he said.
It is vital for everyone to play their part in driving the national development agenda through tax payment.