On Friday, the 13th of March 2020, Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD) in partnership with Amakhosikazi Media, Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA), Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA), and Centre for Innovation Technology (CITE) conducted an edition of The Public Opinion Space under the theme: “Government Taxation and Its Effects On Women In Zimbabwe“.
In attendance was the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Deputy Governor, Dr Khuphukile Mlambo, a business analyst from MoB Capital, Paulla Phiri, an informal trader, Jacqueline Ndlovu, and a representative from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA), who led in depth presentations on Tax Justice and to highlight the implications it has on women.
The Public Opinion Space was held as an observance of Women’s History Month as noted through the #Women4TaxJustice campaign that is currently being run throughout the month of March.
The Public Opinion Space offered a platform for open engagement between duty bearers and citizens at large, particularly on a subject matter that is hardly deliberated on. The following issues were raised:
- Zimbabwe is on a transitional path which started in October 2018, as a measure that is aimed at de-dollarizing the economy so as to stop using the US dollar and encourage the utilisation of the Zimbabwean Dollar. The process is anticipated to last nearly five years, as countries that have introduced such a system managed to fulfill it within a period of 5 – 15 years.
- Confidence on the Zimbabwean economy is low and this is a major non-financial factor affecting the country.
- Zimbabwe is moving away from a crawling peg fixed exchange rate regime that allows depreciation or appreciation to happen gradually. Zimbabwe has now opted for a managed float of the exchange rate which allows the RBZ to intervene if the exchange rate is too high.
- The government of Zimbabwe intends to push for financial inclusion in order to improve access to loans and credit enhancement for the youth bank and women’s bank. This move is said to benefit women and youths.
- The share of actual cash (notes and coins) to total deposits must be about 15 percent. However, Zimbabwe has 1.1 billion notes and coins and 34 billion deposits. The country intends to change the ratio between notes and coins and increase it gradually to global standards, which will lead to an increase in the money supply. Currently printing is being done at a gradual pace to prevent possibilities of increased inflation.
- Value Added Tax and the Intermediated Money Transfer Tax (2 percent tax) are major contributors to revenue collected by ZIMRA. About 90 percent of the national budget is from tax contributions.
- Tax compliance among informal traders is very low, there is multiple taxation, while the 40 percent tax charged at the country’s borders for goods is too high and this results in increased corruption and non-compliance.
Below are the key resolutions that were made during The Public Opinion Space:
- Citizens should ensure lobbying the government against introducing the 2.5% tax on civil servants in what it calls a new loans-centred initiative that will benefit its struggling employees and protect them from loan sharks.
- Government taxation ought to be gender sensitive through the reduction or exemption on basic commodities such as sanitary pads because women suffer from buying expensive sanitary wear.
- The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) urged women in informal traders associations to lobby for progressive tax policies that promote their rights.
- Government intends to introduce wealth based taxes for small businesses in the informal sector, who bemoan the burden of the presumptive tax as it hinders the growth and sustainability of their businesses.
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