By Nyaradzo Bakari
Bulawayo women have called on the government to implement a gender-sensitive taxation system .
This emerged during an open public opinion space discussion held at the city’s Music academy on Friday.
Speaking during the meeting, Ms Paula Phiri, a business analyst from MOB Capital said Zimbabwe needs to get rid of regressive and discriminative taxes to accommodate women.
“Taxes like the Value Added Tax (VAT) have a flat rate so they apply to everyone uniformly without considering who makes the most income. These regressive taxes put more burden on people with low income and most of these are women in the informal sector. We, therefore, wish that the taxes may be reviewed to make them progressive such that those who earn more pay tax in relation to their earnings,” said Ms Phiri.
She urged government to remove tax on sanitary wear and be accountable for the revenue generated from tax.
“We have tax exemptions for some basic commodities but our needs as women are forgotten and we find ourselves paying VAT for things like sanitary wear which is every woman’s need,” said Ms Phiri.
“People do not pay tax not because they do not want but because of lack of information on how the taxes are used for their benefit. Taxes should help in developing our roads, schools, hospitals and so on.”
Ms Yolanda Millin who was part of the audience at the meeting echoed the same sentiments saying women’s needs should be included in the country’s budget.
“The government should note that sanitary wear is not a luxury and make a provision for it in the budget. The review of the taxation system is very necessary,” she said.
Ms Jacqueline Ndlovu who represented the informal traders in the panel said the country would continue to face low compliance when it comes to tax payments due to unjust taxations.
She said : “Due to the flat rate on taxes, those with low income feel short-changed by paying the same tax as those with a high income rate so they feel paying tax is not beneficial. The Forty per cent duty we pay as cross border traders is steep, especially now that we import most of our commodities so if I am to go to South Africa three times a month, my profits are reduced due to the amount of duty I have to pay.”
“There is so much inequality considering I have to pay to the city council for my vending rent, pay two per cent transaction tax, 40 per cent duty for the goods I import and Pay VAT when I buy goods to be used by my family. At the end of the day I am left with nothing, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) is milking a dead cow.”
In an interview on the side-lines, a Zimra representative said there is need to review the taxation policy which dates back to the colonial era.
“Most of the policies were drafted before independence and have been in use since then. In as much as some policies were and are still being changed, there is need to an analysis of the taxation system to promote gender equality.”
The open discussion, running under the theme ‘Justice for Tax,’ was graced by the presence of the deputy governor of the reserve bank Dr Khuphukile Mlambo who gave a talk on the country’s monetary policy.