ZIMRA System Blackout Compromises Trade Data

The country’s trade data for the last month of last year and January this year is yet to be made available, as the systems crash faced by Zimra affected the timeous capturing of source merchandise data, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has said.

On 22 March, Zimstat released February 2018 trade data but did not provide data for the months of December 2017 and January 2018. 

SOURCE: FINANCIAL EXPRESS

“Figures for December 2017 and January 2018 are not available. The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority which is the source of merchandise data did not provide the source data for December 2017”, said Zimstat in a statement accompanying the February 2018 trade data. The data mainly show the basic details of all imported and exported goods such as product name, Harmonised System code, value, source and destination country, among other details.

However the taxman’s acting head of corporate communications, Taungana Ndoro, told FinX that the manual business continuity plan which Zimra resorted to when its customs clearance platform Asycuda World crashed on 13 December saw delays being experienced in capturing the data.

“During the said period, many transactions were captured manually due to system challenges and the Authority would like to apologise once again for the inconvenience caused to our valued stakeholders.

However, these manual transactions have since been captured and going forward statistics will be provided consistently as before”, said Ndoro in emailed responses to FinX.

The unavailability of the system, negatively affected operations of many businesses, such as processing of payments, processing of temporary import permits, and assessments of entries already lodged. The system was restored to working order in January with the help of the experts from the system supplier. However, following the restoration of services, some instability was still experienced in some functionalities, particularly new registrations.

The unavailability of December 2017 trade data means that the country cannot establish key trade insights that can guide policy formulation amongst other things. The 2017 trade deficit or the total exports cannot be established. It is important for decision makers to review patterns from import and export trade data to discover the macro and micro trends of the country’s international trade. This also helps other stakeholders to identify new business opportunities, locate new sources of supply and minimise risk.

Meanwhile, trade data for February 2018 released last month by Zimstats showed that there was a sharp increase in the country’s imports, above exports, resulting in trade deficit for the month widening 69.79 percent to $227.52 million, compared to $134.02 million in February 2017.

Imports rose by 35.42 percent to $574.71 million in February, from the $424.36 million recorded during the same month in the prior year. Exports for the month however grew at a slower pace, edging up 19.58 percent to $347.18 million from $290.34 million in February 2017.

During the month, there was a sharp increase in imports from South Africa, from $145.67 million in February last year to $261.29 million last month. However, imports from Singapore, another key international supplying market for Zimbabwe, retreated from the $112.51 million recorded in the second month of last year to $88.58 million last month.

There was a notable growth in imports from the United Arab Emirates from $6.3 million to $15 million; with imports from China easing from $32.34 million to $30.79 million. Imports from Denmark and UK also rose from $1.8 million and $7.88 million in February last year to $4.82 million and $9.97 million last month, respectively.

Also up were imports from India which reached $16.17 million in February, Japan $15.31 million, Mauritius $17.91 million and Mozambique $10.99 million.

In terms of exports, South Africa topped, with some $216.80 million realised from export receipts from across the Limpopo last month, compared to $185.40 million in February last year. Exports to the United Arab Emirates also jumped from $20.94 million to $38.60 million; with those from Mozambique growing from $20.8 million to $26.60 million.

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