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Zimra launches facility to curb graft

by Staff reporter
13 Jun 2022 at 06:43hrs | Views
THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has launched an electronic single window expected to curb corruption at the country's borders as well as improve the ease of doing business while reducing congestion.

A single window is a facility that allows parties involved in the trade and transport to lodge standardised information and documents with a single entry point to fulfil all import, export and transit-related regulatory requirements.

The implementation of the electronic single window platform is in line with Zimbabwe's efforts in fulfilling trade facilitation and trade agreement to which the country is a signatory.

Among others, Zimbabwe has bilateral trade agreements with Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa.

The country also signed the interim Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) under the Eastern and Southern African (ESA) bloc with the European Commission in 2009.

In a speech read on his behalf during the official launch of the electronic platform by Zimra acting commissioner-general Mrs Regina Chinamasa in Harare last Friday, Finance and Economic Development Secretary Mr George Guvamatanga said: "If information is electronic, then individual data elements should only be submitted once.

This involves electronic submission of permits or licences, certificates of origin, and all documents relating to the importation and exportation of goods using a single electronic platform."

He said through the single window platform all stakeholders and Government agencies will have access to and issue permits or licences and e –certificates of origin electronically unlike the manual process that is presently obtaining on the ground.

"Let me hasten to mention that the new political dispensation with its "Zimbabwe is open for Business" mantra is set to create an enabling and conducive business environment, which enhances international trade and travel.

"The implementation of Single Window platform in Zimbabwe is in line with the Government's National Development Strategy 1 (NDS 1), which emphasize on the use of ICTs (Information Communication Technologies) and promoting the ease of doing business.

Upon successful implementation of the single window platform in Zimbabwe, it is hoped that the benefits to be derived include faster movement of goods through ports of entry, easy access to information, online access to information, enhanced collections of fees, duties and penalties, reduction in corruption and illegal trade activities, as well as enhanced transparency and accountability.

Mr Guvamatanga said the successful development and implementation of a Single Window depend on critical factors that include political will, partnership between Government and trade, establishment of legally enabling environment, and stakeholder engagement to create awareness.

"As for any project to succeed, it needs effective monitoring and evaluation that will ensure that not only planned activities are done but also to confirm that expected results from the project will be achieved to a certain extent," he said.

In an interview on the sidelines of the launch, Mrs Chinamasa said Zimra and Government have been looking at automation as one of the tools that will facilitate in minimising corruption incidences.

"And from the launch of the Zimbabwe Electronic Single Window, we are hoping that as users put their documents online and we process, there is minimum human intervention in terms of face-to-face interactions.

"We have noted that there is a lot of human interventions, it becomes more like a breeding ground for corruption so, we are hoping that this minimisation of face-to-face interaction, we help in curbing corruption," she said.

"Also we are looking at from a perspective that it will enhance our process efficiencies, once you have process efficiencies, you then notice that corruption tends to go down. So, as we strengthen our processes and systems, we are hoping that it becomes a key disabler of corrupt activities at the ports of entry."

The platform, Mrs Chinamasa said is a game-changer that should lead to reduced incidences of corruption at the country's ports of entry.

"But obviously when you roll-out a system, the issues of sustainability of the system is one of the key fundamental issues that we need to look at, at a Government-wide perspective to ensure that the system continues to work because you can deploy a very good system but if you don't maintain and ensure its sustainability, you then find that people will go back to the old ways, which is corruption."

"Currently, our turnaround time if you look at our Bill of Entry where there is nothing its about three hours, that is the benchmark that we are working around with.

But we are hoping once we have an electronic submission of permits and necessary interventions and verifications being done, I think drastically reduce our turnaround time for bona fide submission of bills of entry, probably we can cut it off by 50 percent or more. In a separate interview, Zimra head of compliance division Mr Adrian Swarres who is also the project manager of the single window platform said the rolling out of the latest electronic system was in sync with Zimbabwe's obligation in fulfilling the trade facilitation, bilateral and multilateral trade agreements.

"As a country, we also have our obligations in terms of the trade facilitation agreement where we have pledged to implement a single window as a category C measure. So, we will also be fulfilling our obligations in terms of trade facilitation agreement as well as our obligation in relation to our bilateral and multilateral agreements," he said

Source - The Herald