By BUUMBA CHIMBULU
OVER 90 percent of revenue collected at the end of the first quarter of 2019 was through electronic payment system as they offer real time transaction of taxes, the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) commissioner general, Kingsley Chanda has said.
Mr Chanda said this was after the ZRA had connected all commercial banks to the Automated Systems for Customs Data (ASYCUDA), offering real time electronic payment of taxes. ASYCUDA is being implemented with help from the United National Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
He said the ASYCUDA system had tremendously improved ZRA’s customs operations and sustained revenue collection in line with its key strategic pillars.
Mr Chanda was speaking in Lusaka yesterday when he met the secretary-general for the UNCTAD, Mukhisa Kituye and his entourage.
“We also recognise that there is no system without limitations. However, with the ASYCUDA, we are consoled by the high level of technical knowledge transfer and most importantly, that UNCTAD had provided ZRA with access to the source code for AsycudaWorld. “The ASYCUDA had provided importers, exporters and their clearing agents access to the system from their offices on a 24 hour basis, thus facilitating unlimited trade,” Mr Chanda said.
Mr Chanda said the system had been used to automate the voucher of exemption which was used to facilitate imports by Government.
The system, he said, was being applied to operate as one of the strong pillars in the provision of electronic Government services as its mandate was now being applied beyond the tax administration environment.
Mr Chanda also requested UNCTAD to consider other use of flexible and possibly open source platforms as the authority had encountered some challenges using the system such as restriction on the access of other software.
“UNCTAD has provided ZRA with access to the source code for the system. This is a commendable level of empowerment, especially to developing countries like Zambia as it enables us to develop additional Non-Standard Features, at comparatively low cost and reduces the overall cost of ownership of the system,” he said. And Mr Kituye said UNCTAD was proud of the works done by ZRA regarding the implementation of the electronic system.
Mr Kituye said “I would like to reiterate that we at UNCTAD are very proud of the partnership we have with Government. There are some countries, surprisingly to you that we are seeing Government officers work against national ownership.
“They do not want their own officers to learn and manage the programme, they would rather it remains in the control of consultants” he said.