Should Zimbabweans worry about Tax Exemptions?

On the 27th of January 2021 the government of Zimbabwe through the Minister of Finance gazetted the Income Tax (Exemption from Income Tax) (Great Dyke Investments Private Limited) Notice, 2021 or the Statutory Instrument 26 of 2021. In a context where the country has been exposed for its fragile public health and education services by the Covid-19 pandemic, the act of surrendering the tax rights by government confirms that government is not pro poor. Especially considering that there is no empirical evidence that shows tax incentives attract meaningful mining investment in developing countries. It is baffling to observe that tax exemptions are generously granted to mining companies who engage in harmful and aggressive corporate behaviour that undermine tax revenue mobilisation efforts of the government. At a time when Africa has shifted gears for a continental free trade agreement, tax incentives go against the spirit of pan-Africanism if they are nor harmonized with other African countries – a race to the bottom can be the result. In this situation, countries outdo each other to attract investment by lowering tax rates, giving investors the opportunity to spur a tax regime beauty contest to the detriment of domestic resource mobilization for financing sustainable development.