Home » Industry » Zimra’s Sad Lesson [editorial]

LAST week, we reported that there had been significant disruption of trade at our country’s ports of entry due to a system failure caused by a planned upgrade to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA)’s Automated System for Customs Data (Asycuda) to a higher version which runs on Java 6 software.

Players within the export and import trade sector expressed frustration over what they considered intransigence on the part of ZIMRA officials, who refused to entertain any request for manual clearing of goods to alleviate the burden on importers, who were incurring huge storage bills as well as losing sales for goods held pending clearance.

If this is not disturbing to any Zimbabwean who wants this economy to prosper, then we do not understand what will.

Zimbabwe’s economy is in significant distress, and ZIMRA officials should understand this more than anyone because of the situation the tax collection agency currently finds itself in having to mobilise revenue from a struggling taxpayers.

Therefore they should be seen to be playing a pro-active role in terms of ensuring that economic sectors that depend on it to survive are enabled to do so with minimal or no disruption.

In any case, the role of tax collection agencies in modern economies is to facilitate trade. What ZIMRA, through its conceited officials, did over the past week (sector players say arrogance has become second nature among ZIMRA officials), was retrogressive and undermines the great efforts of their leadership who have publicly claimed to have put in place client-centric strategies for the convenience of the transacting public.

ZIMRA clearly indicates that one of its mandates is to facilitate trade and travel. This is achieved by ensuring smooth movement of goods and people through inland and border ports of entry and exit.

The attitude of ZIMRA officials last week was an affront to this mandate.

The situation was made more shocking by the fact that previously, when similar upgrades were done, there were similar disruptions that cost the economy a lot of money through lost trade.

Therefore it had been expected that during this upgrade, having learnt from past experiences, there would be a fallback position or at least customers would be allowed to resort to manual clearance in the event of a system breakdown.

This did not happen.

ZIMRA executives only reacted later after press enquiries on the situation by announcing that they had put in place measures at all ports of entry and exit to facilitate smooth movement of cargo and reduce inconveniences caused by the system breakdown.

The tax collection agency then aised its clients to approach their respective station managers should they encounter challenges in the movement of their cargo as a result of the situation.

While this may have been a case of too little too late, it was, however, encouraging that the situation was later dealt with.

We understand the problem is now solved, but we implore ZIMRA executives to learn from this situation and live up to the institution’s vision: “A beacon of excellence in the provision of fiscal services and facilitation of trade and travel.”

Source : Financial Gazette