THE Lusaka High Court has granted a stay of execution to the Post Newspaper against the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA)’s Warrant of Distress in which Revenue House was demanding for the immediate settlement of over K16million owed to the authority because it would result in the company closing.
In his ruling delivered at about 17:00 hours yesterday, High Court Justice Mwiinde Siavwapa said allowing the ZRA to collect at once the K16,924 395.04 debt would lead to the closure of the company thereby forcing many families jobless and on the streets.
The High Court Justice said the earlier judgment against the judicial review opened up the newspaper company to ZRA demands for the immediate payment of the entire outstanding debt at once as it was not under consideration under judicial review.
“It is clear that what the applicant is fighting against is not the payment of the outstanding amount due but the demand of the same at once by the commissioner General.
“It further would not be in the interest of the Respondent and the nation to collect outstanding tax at once and for all and render families jobless while an appeal is pending,” he said.
On October 30, 2015, Judge Siavwapa dismissed an application for judicial review over the refusal by the Commissioner General (ZRA) of a proposal on the mode of payment of the outstanding tax by the Post.
This was after the paper defaulted on an initial arrangement to settle the unpaid tax to ZRA which forced the Commissioner General to reject further amendments to the payment plan leading to the Friday raid at the newspaper grounds.
“The Applicant (The Post) fears that if the order of stay is not granted, distress will be levied on its core assets which could result into a close down of its operations,” he said.
Justice Siavwapa had thrown out an application for the judicial review which gave rise to the Authority’s action to pounce on the Post demanding for a one off payment of the amount owed.
However, Justice Siavwapa explained that with the Post newspapers’ appeal at the Supreme Court, it would be useless not to grant a stay in a matter still under consideration as it would make the appeal seem academic.
“Both parties are of one accord in so far as the applicant’s continued liquidation of the due date is concerned while judicial review proceedings were before court.
“That said however, the applicant remains duty bound to continue paying tax obligation for a long as it remains a going concern,” he said.
The Post owes unpaid taxes of over K16million which the High Court has ordered to be paid in installments pending a ruling on an appeal to the Supreme Court.