The Namibian (Windhoek)

21 January 2013

Namibia: !naruseb Shelves Land Tax Plan

GOVERNMENT has back-pedalled on its plans to implement astronomical land tax hikes after more than 2 000 farmers objected against the 2012 Provisional Valuation Roll.

Lands and Resettlement Minister Alpheus !Naruseb on Friday placed an advertisement in state-owned New Era newspaper, saying that he had withdrawn the valuation roll. The valuation court, originally scheduled for last month but postponed to May, was also cancelled.

Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) executive manager Sakkie Coetzee yesterday welcomed !Naruseb's move, saying the minister's decision was "very wise" in the light of the huge number of objections.

About 2 400 objections were lodged against the roll, Coetzee said. The objections were all heading to the valuation court.

Coetzee said the NAU had "very serious" talks with Government since !Naruseb launched the roll last October and it would continue to do so. "We hope the minister will follow a process of compiling a valuation roll that will be acceptable to both Government and land owners," he said.

!Naruseb's roll outraged farmers, some of whose land tax would have skyrocketed by over 600% if the new valuations became effective. The roll was supposed to generate N$400 million over the next five years, with which Government would have bought farms to speed up land reform, !Naruseb said at the launch of the document last year.

That meant N$80 million every year - a stark contrast to the roughly N$25 million per year raised through land tax on commercial farms since 2004.

The roll became the talking point at the NAU annual congress, where farmers called for taxes to be fair, affordable and in line with the carrying capacity of a farm. Their plight even caught the attention of Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) president Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun, who called for a "zero tax rate" for farmers at the gala dinner of the NAU.

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