AS the first tax amnesty period drew to a close on 31 July last year, government vowed to show no mercy to business moguls, who had racked billions in tenders over the years, but who were now reneging on paying their tax, and who together with errant individuals, owed Inland Revenue a principle amount of over N$4 billion.
Government vowed to throw the book at these tenderpreneurs, who had also over the years milked the system further, by inflating prices and delivering shoddy, half-baked work.
Many government projects have either stood half-complete or were abandoned, forcing the State to further empty its coffers to finish off the work.
At the time, the Finance Ministry said that final demand letters would be issued, and if no response is received within 14 days, third-parties will be appointed to collect the tax debt.
The third-parties referred to are banks, employers and tax debt collectors, etc.
It was further said that if no full recovery is made, garnishee orders will be sought, and lastly, assets would be attached.
Businesses that owed the ministry after the deadline would also have been blacklisted and prevented from participating in public procurement processes.
But then, amid increasing pleas from the business sector, including the Namibian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI), which raised the spectre of mass retrenchments, among other issues, government announced a further amnesty period, which started 11 September 2017 and runs until 11 March this year.
This was after only about N$300 million was collected during the first amnesty period.
Confidente reported last year that over 55 200 Namibian firms owe Inland Revenue about N$3.3 billion in tax arrears, while 15 foreign companies owe N$15.7 million to the taxman. The other outstanding amount is owed by individuals.
However, it has now emerged that tax-dodgers have poured scorn on the second amnesty period, with only N$57.3 million collected thus far, which clearly indicates that those who have benefited from tenders and underhand government deals are refusing to pay their share towards the State coffers.
This comes at a time when government has been forced to tighten its belt, as the prevailing economic headwinds continue to bedevil its plans to resuscitate and grow the economy.
The non-payment of taxes has a direct impact on the poorest of the poor, who government supports through its grant system and pumping in billions into poverty alleviation and socio-economic development.
What these tenderpreneurs are essentially doing is showing a middle-finger to the poor, and once the second tax amnesty period ends, government should hold true to its word and throw the proverbial kitchen sink at these looters, who are even to stingy to pay what is owed to treasury, while they continue to drive luxury SUVs and entertain their side-chicks.
What is required now is the immediate blacklisting of these culprits from doing business with the State, while their assets must be liquidated, so that they cough-up what is owed.
The time for playing Mr Nice Guy is over, and the State should, with haste, lay claim to what amounts to ill-gotten gains, because they have not paid their taxes, as required by law. We urge Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein, who faces the arduous task of presenting the country’s budget in March, to publicise a list of those who have been blacklisted, as a result of them shirking their tax responsibilities, so that the media and public can keep a watchful eye, if they attempt to tender for future State projects.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015