Telecoms Industry Taxation Workshop a huge success

The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) hosted an international Telecommunications Industry Taxation Workshop at Troutbeck Hotel Inn resort in Nyanga from the 25th to the 27th of November 2013. The workshop, which ran under the theme “Effectively Taxing the Telecommunications Industry” was a huge success and attracted over a dozen African countries with some sending as many as four delegates to participate at the workshop.

ZIMRA Commissioner General, Mr Gershem T Pasi who officially opened and closed the workshop said the symposium was aimed at unbundling taxable revenue streams within the telecoms sector so as to widen the revenue base in Africa in order to finance social development projects and to unshackle Governments from overly relying on donor funding.

Throughout his remarks Mr Pasi echoed that “Africa is too rich to be poor” as he outlined that the telecommunications industry had become so complex that it was no longer possible to define it using the traditional definition. Mr Pasi explained how the telecommunications companies were venturing into non-traditional roles like banking, offering mobile money transfers and insurance – all of which was a result of the technological advancement that was taking place within the sector.

“How then do we tax these companies considering the amount of business transactions that are taking place on the cellphone?" asked Mr Pasi.

The Commissioner General said it was time for all revenue administrations in Africa to fight against donor dependence syndrome by raising enough revenue for their own Governments. This, he said, would ensure sustainable social development within the communities. He also said meeting revenue targets was not good enough, as this would make the tax authorities relax, forgetting that a lot of revenue is being lost in the production and distribution chain.

“In fact revenue authorities must move away from that comfort zone of meeting revenue targets and ensure that all that is due to the State is given back to the State,” said the Commissioner General.

The workshop saw delegates conducting several sessions discussing how best to tax the telecommunications industry which the delegates agreed had evolved to become so complex as each day passes by. The delegates also shared country experiences on the taxing of the telecommunications industry, and from the deliberations  it was apparent that the tax authorities were not getting enough from their respective telecommunications players, in spite of them contributing a huge chunk to the economy through various taxes every year. Speakers from KPMG and CSG International – an international company which specialises in business solutions software systems – also graced the occasion and they gave some splendid presentations.

The workshop ended with the participants passing a number of resolutions which were to be tailor-made for implementation by the respective revenue administrations that participated at the workshop.

The delegates were taken for an excursion around Nyanga National Park, where they had an opportunity to have a look at the Nyangani Mountain which is the highest mountain in Zimbabwe. The delegates also had an opportunity to tour the World’s View which is one of the popular tourist attractions in Zimbabwe.

Felipe Fragoso consultant from CSG International addresses delegates on the Sub-Saharan Africa’s booming telecoms industry (its revenue!)

 
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