HARARE – Zimbabwe’s revenue agency Zimra exceeded its target of $818 million for the first quarter of this year by 2 percent, it said on Tuesday, and is pushing to tax money held in offshore accounts in a bid to ease a dollar crunch.
The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) collects 98%of all money used by the government, mostly from personal and company taxes as well as levies on imported goods.
After averaging near double-digit annual growth between 2009 and 2012, economic growth is now flatlining in Zimbabwe due to shortages of electricity and capital, while less than 20% of the working population is in formal employment.
Gershom Pasi, the commissioner general of Zimra, told a committee of parliament that revenues were above target during the first three months of the year but he immediately sounded a warning on the state of the economy.
“For us it’s a miracle given the state of the economy. Things are not well out there and we have predicted that until we have an inflow of some (investment) revenue into the economy, we may be headed for a serious shrinkage of revenue,” he said.
Zimbabwe abandoned its currency in 2009 after it was eroded by hyperinflation but is battling a dollar shortage due to a lack of inflows on foreign investor concerns over President Robert Mugabe’s economic polices.
The official growth forecast for this year is 6.4%, up from 3.4% last year, but independent economists see expansion at a much lower rate.
Pasi also said Zimra had proposed to the government to tax money held in offshore accounts by individuals and companies, in a bid to force them to repatriate the money to Zimbabwe. He did not say how much was estimated to be in offshore accounts.