HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe’s tax collections were six percent below target in the first half of this year due to a depressed economy, the tax authority said on Monday, adding pressure on a government struggling to pay workers’ salaries.
Taxes finance the entire budget in the southern African country because lenders like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank have said they will only resume supporting Zimbabwe once it clears its debts with the global lenders.
Zimbabwe’s economic troubles have been worsened by the worst drought in a quarter century, low mineral commodity prices that have hit exports and lack of foreign investment.
President Robert Mugabe’s government paid July salaries late and is yet to pay some workers as it grapples with an acute currency shortage.
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) chairperson Willia Bonyongwe said January-June taxes amounted to $1.65 billion, below the projected $1.75 billion. Compared to the same period last year, collections were down 9 percent.
“As expected, the economy continues to ride on choppy waters,” Bonyongwe said.
Company taxes were 13 percent below target at $145 million, a figure which is less than half what individuals paid.
Bonyongwe said mining companies paid $33 million in royalties, below the target of $52 million as mines in Zimbabwe struggle with low commodity prices.
ZIMRA was owed $2.63 billion in outstanding taxes during he first half of the year.
Tax on imports was expected to fall during the second half of this year after the government imposed a ban on some imports from South Africa, a move which triggered violent protests in the southern border town of Beitbridge in July.
(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by James Macharia)
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