5 August 2004

Namibia: Council Still Not Happy With Tax Bill

IT'S grossly unfair that the public should bear the brunt of the incompetence, shortcomings and negligence of civil servants.

This was said in the National Council on Tuesday of this week by Swapo's Henoch Ya Kasita, when he addressed the chamber on the Value Added Tax Amendment Bill.

Earlier this year, the National Council referred the same amendment Bill back to the National Assembly for reconsideration.

"We must be careful about civil servants penalising people for not paying taxes without us being told the specific causes and reasons why people don't want to pay taxes. Summarily steps should be taken against such civil servants, staring with the permanent secretaries as accounting officers," Ya Kasita stressed.

Genarosa Andowa verbally indicated her unhap-piness with the Minister of Finance's passing of the buck onto civil servants for pena-lising the country's taxpayers.

"We have thus far not even received our IRP5 forms for the past two years and yet it is expected of everyone to pay tax arrears because of miscalculations as was stated by the Minister of Finance. We are not responsible for that. We need clarification from the Ministry on this," insisted Andowa, who supported the amendment Bill.

Dudu Murorua of the DTA-UDF Coalition was more blunt in his criticism of the Ministry of Finance for penalising the public for its own failures.

"Because the Value Added Tax Act is certainly one of the laws that influences the lives of the Namibian people to a great extent, I suggest that this amendment Bill be referred to a relevant standing committee for further and better scrutiny," Murorua said.

According to Johnny Haikella of Swapo, members of the council were also penalised by the present system.

"It seems that if civil servants are unable to perform their duties properly, they impose penalties on the public for tax arrears. We should guard against such unnecessary tax penalties, which can have a harmful effect on the Namibian Government," Haikella said.

He also alleged that there are bodies and individuals in the country who intentionally avoid paying taxes to the Government.

It is expected that the DTA-UDF Coalition will table a number of amendments to the new Labour Bill, to be further discussed this morning, probably the last day of this short session.

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