Zimra un­der fire from coun­cils

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News -

THE Zim­babwe Rev­enue Au­thor­ity (Zimra) has come un­der fire from lo­cal au­thor­i­ties for gar­nish­ing the bulk of the $22 mil­lion that the Zim­babwe Na­tional Roads Ad­min­is­tra­tion (Zi­nara) dis­bursed to them for rou­tine road re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, main­te­nance and de­vel­op­ment.

The coun­cils claim that most of the roads in the coun­try­side and farm­ing ar­eas were not nav­i­ga­ble and the gar­nishee or­ders were go­ing to worsen the sit­u­a­tion.

Speak­ing at the As­so­ci­a­tion of Ru­ral District Coun­cil of Zim­babwe Bi­en­nial Congress held in Harare last week, about 60 ru­ral lo­cal au­thor­i­ties’ rep­re­sen­ta­tives com­plained that Zimra was not spar­ing coun­cils’ road ac­counts that were gar­nished for fail­ing to meet their statu­tory obli­ga­tions.

The lo­cal au­thor­i­ties called on Zimra to spare the road funds and tar­get other ac­counts.

Re­spond­ing to the con­cerns, prin­ci­pal direc­tor in the Fi­nance and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Min­istry Mr Pfungwa Ku­naka, how­ever, said not all lo­cal au­thor­i­ties were af­fected by the gar­nishee or­ders, which he said were nec­es­sary.

“It is not all lo­cal au­thor­i­ties that had their ac­counts gar­nished. It (gar­nishee order) is not just ap­ply­ing to lo­cal au­thor­i­ties. Rev­enue col­lect­ing agen­cies are try­ing to make sure that rev­enue is col­lected. Zimra en­gages in a mu­tual way and given the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, Gov­ern­ment needs to col­lect rev­enue.

“Gar­nishees are the last re­sort, it’s un­for­tu­nate Zi­nara funds have also been af­fected. Yes, we ap­pre­ci­ate chal­lenges that come with gar­nishees. We may not at this point lift gar­nishees. If we are go­ing to lift en­force­ment pro­vi­sions, we will see a chal­lenge in col­lect­ing rev­enue. Ex­emp­tions might set the wrong prece­dent. We want to plead that we make an ef­fort un­der­stand the use of gar­nishees,” he said.

The said gar­nishees may seem puni­tive but it was a tool used as a last re­sort, he said.

Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment, Pro­mo­tion and Preser­va­tion of Na­tional Cul­ture Min­is­ter, Cde Abed­nico Ncube, said the ef­fects of the harsh eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment had not spared lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.

“As noted ear­lier, you are now part of Gov­ern­ment of Zim­babwe. Ac­cord­ingly, it is ex­pected that all lo­cal au­thor­i­ties take de­lib­er­ate and well thought out mea­sures not only to build in­ter­nal re­silience, but also to as­sist the coun­try to re­verse the trend vis-a-vis the growth of the econ­omy.”

“In par­tic­u­lar, steps need to be taken to elim­i­nate leak­ages by strength­en­ing in­ter­nal con­trols, re­duce em­ploy­ment and re­lated costs, elim­i­nate waste­ful ex­pen­di­ture in ev­ery form and broadly to en­hance or­gan­i­sa­tional per­for­mance,” he said.

He urged lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to ac­tively pro­mote lo­cal eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment in their ar­eas so as to cre­ate em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties and fa­cil­i­tate eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment.

Last year, Zi­nara in­creased al­lo­ca­tion of money to lo­cal au­thor­i­ties by 312 per­cent to fa­cil­i­tate improved main­te­nance and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of roads.

The roads ad­min­is­tra­tion au­thor­ity is a statu­tory body em­pow­ered to col­lect road fees through toll fees, fuel levy, ve­hi­cle li­cences, and tran­sit, ab­nor­mal and over­load fees.

The lo­cal au­thor­i­ties re­ceive part of the money and claim that Zimra’s re­turn of the same funds back to Gov­ern­ment was counter-pro­duc­tive.

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