Nqobile Tshili, Business Correspondent
THERE is a need for Government and its stakeholders to review the tax regime in the country to ensure that it does not repel foreign and local investors, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister, July Moyo, told delegates during a conference for local authorities in Bulawayo last week that Zimbabwe’s drive to lure investment should not be offset by “heavy” taxation.
“At national level through Zimra, you tax income and at local authorities level (Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe) you tax people through property tax. Between the two of you, you have parastatals and insurance companies, particularly NSSA, that you tax,” said Minister Moyo.
“So my call to Zimra as the lead tax authority and the Ministry of Finance is that the taxing authorities must talk to each other if Zimbabwe is going to remain permanently open for business.”
The minister said the regulatory institutions should self introspect and be put in one room so that they share ideas on how they can harmonise their operations and promote investment in the country. He said Zimbabwe cannot be open for business if the country’s taxing systems were not investor friendly.
“I say I will put you in one room, you being the people who tax others, so that you can talk to each other about the taxing system in this country and see whether Zimbabwe is open for business,” said Minister Moyo.
“Because Zimbabwe cannot be open for business if the Minister of Finance is taxing heavily those who want to invest in Zimbabwe be it domestic and international. Equally Zimbabwe cannot be open for business if local authorities are heavily taxing the people of Zimbabwe, local and foreign investors.”
He said although other taxing regimes were important, the local government ones should make it possible for investors to prefer to settle in their locality.
“But the critical people who must make Zimbabwe open for business are the local authorities. Because in fact no business can come to Zimbabwe withoutlocating in one of your local authorities,” said the minister.
“You are the first port of call who can actually start chasing away business both domestic and international because of how you tax them.”
Minister Moyo challenged parastatals and private sector players to also play their part and ensure Zimbabwe was indeed open for business.— @nqotshili