Wednesday, February 16, 2011
By Daaram Simakungwe
Wed 16 Feb. 2011, 04:00 CAT
It is very worrying that the whole tax system is so messed up in Zambia today. I was baffled to read that the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) Commissioner General is against the introduction of windfall taxes.
I am not qualified enough to question the ZRA chief, but what I know is that the job of ZRA starts and ends at collecting taxes on behalf of the government.
This is the first time I am hearing ZRA defending an industry but they can’t defend the motorists on the abonormal fuel taxes. ZRA should be sincere and accept that they have failed.
They only tax the traditional industries. ZRA's emphasis is on motor vehicle imports, Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and abnormal fuel taxes.
They don’t care about the emeralds that are mined and exported at night from rural mines on the Copperbelt.
They don’t care about the billions of dollars coming from the mines because to them, these earnings are cancelling out with "capital expenditures" and "high production costs".
Mine owners are winning the tax war using these economic jargon and we are buying into it. Most mine jobs today are casualised with no future.
ZRA should also inform us why fuel is so over-taxed in Zambia.
Even crashing economies like Zimbabwe have cheaper fuel than Zambia.
ZRA has failed the Zambians, and today, they can only be proud of efficiently collecting PAYE and VAT.
ZRA has no capacity to investigate and audit the mines.
They have failed to do that in the last 10 years. No one wants to see the mines closed, but we need to re-adjust the tax systems in Zambia for the sake of wealth distribution.
If ZRA was effective, government would not be changing passports and drivers licences on a daily basis at a high cost just to raise money.
Again, it comes down to lack of sincerity on the part of our government leaders.