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Tax chief blasts vendor economy, stalled ZimAsset and targets churches
25/06/2015 00:00:00
by Business Reporter
 
Soon to tax churches ... Gershem Pasi
 
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"We are creating a generation that might never know formal employment and that would be wasted investment given the resources we have spent in their education."

ZIMBABWE’S tax collector has hit out at the country’s vendor economy as he announced plans to tax churches and their fabulously rich ‘prophets’ in an increasingly desperate bid to raise money for the government.

Zimra boss Commissioner-General, Gershem Pasi, criticised the government’s “laid back” attitude in addressing the country’s economic problems.

He warned that Zimbabwe risked creating a generation that may never know formal employment as companies collapse and many people are reduced to vending.

The development would be a waste of the massive investment in education, the tax chief added.

Addressing a Parliamentary committee Thursday, Pasi said implementation of the government’s much touted ZimAsset economic blueprint has effectively stalled.

“We need to address that issue (implementation); it should be given the urgency it deserves,” he said.

“The problem we have as Zimbabweans is that we are laid back and believe things will right themselves.

“We are creating a generation that might never know formal employment and that would be wasted investment given the resources we have spent in their education.”

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa famously said Zimbabweans needed to come to terms with the fact that the country had a new economy – one based on the informal sector following the collapse of companies due a 15-year-long crunch.

But Pasi said the vendors are notoriously difficult to tax.

“We have challenges with the SMEs because there is a high level of non-compliance. Most of them are of no fixed aboard.

“We need to have a developmental industrial policy which can help us resuscitate industries,” he said.

The Zanu PF-led government is currently scrambling to establish enabling structures for the vendor-based economy but Pasi said this could be a waste of resources.

“You will find out that we will spend a lot of resources dealing with a passing phenomenon.

“We will put a lot of money trying to make sure that vendors are accommodated but when we have created employment as we must, we would have built a lot of white elephants,” he explained.



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The ever-diminishing tax base would likely see Zimra missing its tax targets this year.

Pasi said they would soon announce measures to tax churches where wealthy pastors andself-styled "prophets" are suspected to be evading tax.

“We are now focusing on them (churches) and we have engaged them, we are setting parameters,” he said.

“We don’t care how they make their money and come November, we will be through with our legislative proposals to the minister (Finance and Economic Development Patrick Chinamasa), which will tighten that area because we have seen loopholes there.

“They are not immune to taxation.”


 
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