Zimra targets ‘viable’ parastatals

A handful of parastatals that have managed to break even as their counterparts struggle to survive have been targeted by the desperate taxman.

The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) is moving swiftly to recoup unpaid taxes from viable parastatals, according to inside sources. The targeted entities include NetOne, the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) and the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA).

“Zimra has been writing to the parastatals to notify them that it will be instituting garnishee orders against them for taxes dating back to 2009 when the economy was dollarised. It is only focusing on a few parastatals that are considered to be operating with some semblance of viability,” said one of the sources.

Close to 80 of the parastatals are suffering acute loss-making and have to rely on government funding to pay salaries. Prominent among these are the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), Zupco and Air Zimbabwe.

Parastatals have been experiencing severe financial problems for close to 15 years and their problems are attributed to corruption, political interference and misplaced priorities.

“The latest move by Zimra will kill the targeted parastatals. Very soon, workers will be going without salaries as all the money goes to honour the garnishees, operations will be affected and skilled staff will flee,” said another source. The sources said Zimra recently ordered CAAZ to supply it with written documents pertaining to its taxes stretching back to February 2009. The tax authority reportedly gave two weeks’ notice that expired on September 25, but information available indicates that the aviation entity has not complied yet. Zimra is also reported to be casting the net wider and seeking to garnish all local authorities, despite them struggling to survive. Last year, government ordered the municipalities to cancel residents’ bills worth millions of dollars, a move the local authorities said severely affected their coffers and impacted service delivery.

They are currently struggling to raise income from ratepayers, who in turn are arguing that they will not pay as essential services are not being delivered.

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