Marred by recurrent system breakdowns that have caused it to lose millions of dollars, Zimra is racing to upgrade its Automated System for Customs Data (Asycuda) systems marked by the latest acquisition of three servers.
The Asycuda system is used for online pre-clearance of goods, issuance of road access fees payment and processing of temporary import permits [TIPs] for vehicles. Zimra is in a hurry to complete the upgrading of Asycuda by the 1st of June this year.
While presenting Zimra’s first quarter results, Zimra board chairperson Willia Bontongwe said:
The authority is currently in the process of upgrading the system to a higher version and to this end, three top-of-the-range servers have been acquired…..This should put an end to the systems crash experienced previously especially in December 2017.
The system failures are usually marked by the failure to process bills of entry and long queues at Beitbridge border post. At its worst, the system is said to have caused some importers to redirect their imports to other border posts.
Away from the border posts, taxpayers were also experiencing e-filing problems and slow responses to getting tax clearance certificates. These kinds of problems only make doing business hard in Zimbabwe. Currently, Zimbabwe is ranked at 159 on the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Ranking. And that is a very bad position.
Another notable problem is that when the system breaks down it becomes difficult to monitor imported commercial goods’ movement with a manual system. Consequently, this leads to corruption as exploitation of the manual records is easily done since there wont be an instant online reporting system when records are tempered with. The first half of last year alone Zimra recovered an astounding $120 million and arrested 21 officials for corruption-related practices.