Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
THE Government targets to register 15 000 Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) for tax registration by the end of the month, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Responding to questions in Parliament last Thursday, Small to Medium Enterprises and Co-operative Development Minister, Sithembiso Nyoni, said her ministry in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has embarked on a programme on tax education for SMEs and co-operatives.
“The programme has a target of registering at least 15 000 SMEs by the end of the first quarter of 2017. The programme is aimed at sensitising and educating the SMEs and cooperatives on tax issues as well as encouraging them to be tax compliant through registering with Zimra,” said Minister Nyoni.
Last year, the Government announced that it was formalising the SMEs operations to tap into the informal sector following realisation that the country’s tax base was shrinking as companies in the formal sector were either downsizing or closing shop. Against this background, the SMEs sector has taken over as the country’s biggest employer.
Minister Nyoni said the SMEs taxation programme would be implemented across the country adding that training workshops have also been conducted in all the provinces. The Government has noted the critical role played by SMEs in economic development.
According to a Finscope Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Survey, 2012, in Zimbabwe, there are 2,8 million SME owners employing 2,9 million people, translating into 5,7 million people dependent on the sector, contributing over 60 percent to the Gross Domestic Product.
As part of efforts to appreciate SMEs’ contribution to economic development, the Government among other support mechanisms was working to avail funding for the sector.
Recently, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa announced that the Government was working on unlocking a $3 million loan facility from Arab Bank for Economic Development to recapitalise SMEs.
Last month, the Government on behalf of SMEs in the leather sector received leather processing equipment from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.
The machinery, which was sponsored by the European Union, is worth about $125 000.
Part of the equipment meant to benefit SMEs in Bulawayo is now housed at the Clothing and Pension Industry Fund complex along Khami Road in the city.