Bus operators slam Chikwanda tax plan

THE proposed increment in presumptuous tax for public transporters has the potential to push up bus fares for the ordinary commuter, says Public and Private Drivers Association president Sydney Mbewe.

On Friday last week, Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda presented a K46.7 billion 2015 Budget where he announced government’s intention to increase presumptuous tax from the current K3 per day to K8 per day per public service vehicle.

“The number of public service vehicles operating illegally on the Zambian roads is increasing  hence the tax burden becoming heavier on the few abiding transporters who are becoming fewer and fewer at bus stations.

“The government has allowed a lot of players to operate without paying taxes,” he said.

He explained that because the number of those paying taxes was getting smaller, the tax burden was increasing on the few law abiding operators and their drivers who had to ensure they made enough money to meet the demands.

Mr Mbewe said a public service vehicle driver was overburdened with various fees he paid on behalf of the operator but was still needed to make the cashing despite the various fees charged at the station and by the council.

“The driver has to pay K25 station fees to the council, and now K8 tax to the Zambia Revenue Authority making up to K33 per day but the bus owner still expects daily cashing at the full amount, and this puts pressure on the driver to set high targets, as any excuse would result in job losses among other consequences of shortages.

“That is why many drivers have resolved to operate outside the stations to avoid paying fees and it seems the conditions are conducive for defaulters to do business out there; so maybe we should all go on the streets and stop paying these taxes,” he said.

He said it would make little sense for a few drivers to comply with the law and pay taxes while many more out there continued doing business without paying tax or any financial requirements by the local authorities.

He said it was unfortunate that the transport sector had been infiltrated by illegal players who operated outside designated bus stations, leaving the burden of paying tax to a few operators, especially in Lusaka.

Mr Mbewe said the increment would be too heavy if applied to selected operators who were law abiding without government effort to clear the streets of illegal operators.

He said it would therefore be inevitable to increase bus fares should the proposal to increase presumptuous tax by over 100 percent be approved in the 2015 Budget.