Pay VAT refunds and save jobs, ZRA told

THE Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) must pay the mines the over US$600 million Value Added Tax refunds  because the money would help save the 20,000 jobs now under threat,  former deputy  commissioner of taxes (technical) at ZRA, Mr Ronald Banda, has said.

Mr Banda said if ZRA had been doing its mandated duty properly it should have timely collected revenue owed to it by the Post Newspapers and other taxpayers  to avoid accumulation of tax arrears.

“This includes other taxplayers who have been and are still evading taxes out there.  The cries by the Post Newspapers and the Daily Nation are not justified. They have to be visited and made to pay. Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar,” Mr Banda said.

Mr Banda, the former deputy minister of Community Development, said ZRA should have intimate knowledge on how tax administration was carried out in enforcement, compliance, broadening of tax base and VAT duty.

He said ZRA should not leave matters of taxes to ministers only because policy-makers come and go.

What was needed was for the government to improve ZRA tax administration to avoid suspicions or selective approaches and innuendos.

He  said that it was the duty of ZRA experts to amend rule 18 of VAT compliance by the mining companies.

Mr Banda said tax experts at ZRA should not have allowed VAT rule 18 that allowed mining companies to claim refund to continue.

“The technocrats in taxes are at ZRA and not Ministry of Finance,” Mr Banda said.

“Having worked under ZRA as taxman, it was our duty as tax experts to inform the Hon. Minister of Finance when a particular legislation was not functioning and was not achieving the intended purpose or taxpayers were having difficulties in furnishing the required documentation or it had loopholes in its implementation to the disadvantage of revenue collection and recommended that the piece of legislation be removed with the approval of the honourable minister.”

Mr Banda said the instigator to remove such a rule was ZRA, the implementing agency.

He said ministers are not tax experts and  to state that Mr Chikwanda was involved in tax matters to benefit himself was not fair.

“Therefore to state that Hon. Chikwanda is dealing with this matter with a deliberate conscience and that it benefits him to do what he is doing, I don’t see such evidence,’’ he said.

“This rule has been there since 1997. The people who have been sleeping on duty are ZRA experts because each financial year Budget proposals are submitted to the Ministry of Finance from ZRA and the general public’’.

He said among the propals   the removal of redundant legislation that was difficult to implement or legislation that disadvantaged collection of revenue or that could easily be abused.