THE Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) must use the difficult times the nation is going through to reflect deeply on strengthening compliance because there are still visible slippages in the compliance areas, Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda has said.
And Mr Chikwanda has warned that 2016 would be a challenging year following the very adverse weather pattern the country was experiencing.
Mr Chikwanda has since urged ZRA not be complacent in executing its mandate if the tax collecting agency was to maximise its revenue collection on behalf of Government.
Mr Chikwanda was speaking in Chipata yesterday during official handing over of 4×2 semi-detached houses to ZRA staff at Mwami border post.
Mr Chikwanda said ZRA collection may be above target but fell far below the requirements in relation to the country’s vast development aspirations and given the huge development arrears of the past.
“As Government, while we commend ZRA for its accomplishment and magnificent efforts, we urge the authority not to be complacent but use the difficult times we are in to reflect more deeply on strengthening compliance,” Mr Chikwanda said.
He said the modernization which Government had embarked on backed by resource injection had raised efficiency levels in tax collection and eliminated substantially adverse human factors.
Mr Chilwanda said the infusion of Information Communication and Technology (ICT) had revolutionized revenue collections and off-line payments had added a positive dimension in revenue collection.
“There are, however, incidences beyond residual or peripheral issues of large illicit consignments hitting the market. We have some difficulty before we can move with glory to near perfection,” Mr Chikwanda said. He urged ZRA to reflect on mooting other ways of revenue mobilization and collection as long as those innovations were not adrift with the internal logic of public finance which he said required net revenue to exceed the attendant cost of administering any tax measures.
And Mr Chikwanda warned that 2016 would be a challenging year following the very adverse weather pattern and that it was therefore imperative for every Zambian to stay steadfast in their resolve to overcome the temporary setback.
He said the Patriotic Front (PF) government in its five-year mandate had ushered in an ambitious development agenda which had spearheaded the transformation of Zambia beyond what had been experienced since independence.
“Here in Eastern Province, we have seen many infrastructural projects including roads, health facilities and schools. With the commendable work ethic of the people of this province, agriculture with good weather conditions, is destined to grow to the very high levels. Apart from maize, other products such as cotton, groundnuts and even tobacco offer promising prospects,” Mr Chikwanda said.
Earlier, Mr Chikwanda said the year 2015 was a difficult one as the global economy grew at an uncomfortable sluggish pace, inducing severe downward spirals in commodity prices.
“Zambia like all emerging economies suffered from these externally induced shocks which severely impacted on our foreign exchange earnings, a situation which accentuated the depreciation of the Kwacha to levels that were unsalutary on the economy including external debt servicing,” Mr Chikwanda said.
And Eastern Province Permanent Secretary, Chanda Kasolo said government had made progress in turning Mwami border post in a one stop shop.
Mr. Kasolo said it was pleasing that government had embarked on various development projects such as the boarder posts in the province.
Meanwhile ZRA Commissioner General, Berlin Msiska said Mwami border post was very key to the linkage of the Nacara Corridor.
Mr. Msiska said in 2015 ZRA collected 44 million kwacha against a target of 57 million kwacha at Mwami border.
He said the construction of staff houses would boost morale in workers thereby improving tax collection