ZRA hurting all exporters over VAT

THE Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) is withholding Value Added Tax (VAT) for all exporters, including the mines, resulting in a severe liquidity crisis to the affected companies, the Chamber of Mines of Zambia has revealed.

The Chamber said in a statement yesterday that suggestions that the current withholding of VAT refunds only involved the mines was wrong as other sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing were also affected by the current requirements under the ZRA Rule 18(1)(B) including the mining sector.

“ZRA has been withholding refunds for all exporters as evidenced by a letter from the Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ZACCI) to the Minister of Finance. The Chamber therefore regrets the cynical and cross misrepresentation being perpetuated that the issue of VAT refunds only applies to the mining industry,” the statement read.

They explained that mining companies have suffered severe liquidity crisis resulting from inability or delayed payments of suppliers and contractors, as well as various operational problems with workers’ salaries.

The Chamber said since the enforcement of Rule 18(1) in 2013, there has been a backlog of accumulated unpaid refunds of up to US$600 million to the mines, despite several meetings held to that effect. The Chamber has alleged that the rule had too many inconveniences which made it impossible for exporters to claim their VAT refunds, and that several suggestions to amend the anomalies were already tabled.

“Although ZRA expressed concern that members of the Chambers have taken ZRA to court and could not therefore deal with the Tax Refunds so far owed, the Chamber held that the matters were separate and should be dealt with accordingly. “The cases in court relate to rule 18 which would automatically be resolved once the necessary amendments to the Rule are made,” the statement read.

The Chamber said copper exports followed a thorough documented procedure which was proof at port of exit, which was sufficient evidence to validate exports, to facilitate efficient trade and handling of transactions.