The Ministry of Revenues raises the alarm that less than 15 percent of cash registers in the country are transmitting daily data to its offices.
During a quarterly performance report presented to Parliament’s standing committee on Public Expenditure Administration and Control Affairs, the Ministry shed light on the urgent need for a new directive as the number of cash registers transmitting daily data has plummeted to less than 15 percent.
Less than 37,000 of the 285,000 cash registers assigned to business provide the Ministry with daily data summaries. Nearly 5,000 machines are classified as non-transmitting, while approximately 12,000 machines have been rendered inoperable by the Ministry’s command system.
Aynalem Negussie, minister of Revenues, pointed out that most cash register machines lack up-to-date technology and fail to incorporate a GPS system, making it impossible to track them.
“The tax administration proclamation does state that a directive on this particular technology must be legislated, but it does not grant us the responsibility to do so. This is holding us back from demanding tax payers to hold a technologically advanced cash register machine,” Aynalem said.
Members of the Committee challenged the Minister’s claim, asserting that the proclamation grants either the Ministry of Revenues or the Ministry of Finance the authority to issue the necessary directive.
A recent audit revealed that the whereabouts of over 26,000 cash registers remain unknown, fueling concerns among lawmakers about potential illicit activities associated with them.
In light of this, the Ministry issued an order to companies, demanding monthly reports containing the names, addresses, and unique serial numbers of businesses to whom they sell the machines.
However, the Ministry’s own report exposes a disconcerting finding: out of the 88,536 machines inspected by Ministry officials this fiscal quarter, 4,578 were discovered to be involved in illegal activities, resulting in the collection of over 141 million birr in administrative fines.
The report also highlights that the absence of legislation has not hindered the importation of machines meeting international standards.
Aynalem emphasizes that in the past four months alone, five importing companies (including Petram, Jupiter, and Omedad) have imported and distributed 5,251 machines.
Nonetheless, the committee raises concerns over the scarcity of foreign currency and difficulties in accessing spare parts, affecting the 19 authorized companies responsible for machine imports.
Ministry officials revealed that central bank regulators have agreed to a USD four million disbursement to remedy the issues.
The report also indicates that this quarter’s allocation has facilitated the importation of 19,888 machines, with 8,000 still in the possession of the companies.