HARDLY a day passes without a message in the media calling on people to pay tax or ensure that a receipt is issued in any transaction and service paid for.
The campaign for revenue collection is led by national leaders as revenue officers from the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) and the Zanzibar Revenue Board (ZRB) intensify efforts for the collection.
The recent shift in revenue collection is in response to complaints against tax evasion due to dishonesty, weak laws, and poor facilities in ensuring that people supposed to pay tax do so.
Taxation remain a major source of income which can help the government to implement development plans aiming at achieving better living for citizens.
President Ali Mohammed Shein recently said: “People should pay tax, and officials must be honest in collecting revenue. We cannot have improved health care, good roads, education, housing and transportation without people paying tax and proper revenue collection.”
Similar to the ongoing efforts in the Mainland, Zanzibar has decided to use EFD machines to improve revenue collection, with great hope of ending tax evasion in Unguja and Pemba.
EFD machines are a new phenomenon on the Islands particularly in business deals and services, therefore in efforts to minimize grumble over the machines, Zanzibar has decided to carry out a nationwide campaign to educate people about the changes.
The EFD awareness or education campaign being carried by Zanzibar Revenue Board (ZRB) officers, aims to leave no one behind in understanding the machines to be introduced in the islands starting November this year (2017).
ZRB plans to ensure, through different groups and organizations, all people understand the importance of paying tax and the efforts being taken by the government to collect revenue for the benefit of everyone.
The Revenue board has been conducting awareness workshops with different groups including lawmakers, local leaders, NGOs and Journalists to spread the EFD message across the islands alongside encouraging people to pay tax.
Members of the Zanzibar House of Representatives recently enacted “Amendment of the Tax Administration and Procedures Act No. 7/2009” to legalise the use of EFD in issuing of receipt in trade or businesses, sales analysis and stock control system.
Mr Hassan Omar, a business man, is among the few members in the business community who have already received information about EFD machines, he says “We welcome the machines, but education about the use and maintenance is important. We also ask the government to abolish some the taxes like excise duty on soft drinks to minimize cost of production.”
Mr Amour Hamil Bakari, Commissioner of ZRB, in collaboration with other officers from the board, Mr Ahmed Hajji Sadaat (Manager Policy, planning and Research), and Mr Mussa Amour Ali (communication expert) told a media workshop to help encourage all members of the business community and executives in public offices to use the devises.
On the mainland EFDs have been in use since 2013. Zanzibar plans to distribute free-of-charge a more advanced machine, the ‘Virtual Fiscal De vice (VFD), to minimize complaints from users and traders.
Mr Sadaat said that multiple challenges emerged during the use of EFD in the mainland, and the experience has prompted Zanzibar to use the VFD instead. He said challenges learned from EFD in mainland include that the machines were ‘limited user friendliness, and without GPRS and hardware.’
General Packet Radio Services (GPRS) is a packetbased wireless communication service that promises data rates and continuous connection to the Internet for mobile phone and computer users.
“Inadequate training to users on the best way of administering EFDs, Public/stakeholders failure demand for EFDs receipts, and the devises inability to remain connected online, were other problems which the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) reported after the introducing the EFDs,” Saadat said.