THE business community in Bulawayo has condemned the move by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) to impose stiff penalties as well as garnish accounts of defaulting firms, saying the development is likely to increase company closures in the city.
A number of Bulawayo firms are reportedly reeling from the Zimra blitz.
In separate interviews with Southern Eye Business, lobby groups in Bulawayo said intensive raids spurred by a desperate bid to raise funds for the cash-strapped government were threatening the survival of local companies the bulk of who we are operating at below 40% capacity utilisation.
They called on the authority to review tax penalties and suspend the garnishing of company funds.
“What is being done by Zimra is not good for the economy.
We have been receiving complaints from different companies in the city about this issue,” Affirmative Action Group vice-president Sam Ncube said.
“It’s a critical issue that needs to be addressed and we are saying there should be dialogue between companies and Zimra because what is happening at the moment will force some companies to close shop,” he said, adding the government was dealing with the symptoms not the problems.
Ncube said the government should make funds available for companies before demanding excessive tax from them.
Lucky Mlilo, the chief executive officer of Association for Business in Zimbabwe said the government should exercise extreme caution when dealing with companies adding if the situation persists, companies would shut down.
“We understand that Zimra is getting pressure from the government, but it should understand our concerns as the business community to avoid company closures.
Companies are finding it hard to survive, but Zimra continues to squeeze them.
We are saying there should be dialogue not garnisheeing companies,” Mlilo said.
He added that garnishing amounts owed, which include penalty and interest fees, could result in companies folding up, leading to the loss of more jobs.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries Matabeleland chapter president Busisa Moyo said they had engaged Zimra over the issue.
“Zimra should give a blanket amnesty and should charge reasonable penalties for defaulters so that there will be a good relationship between them and companies he said.
“What we are advocating for is for companies to be given a reprieve as what was done by Bulawayo City Council.”