THE Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) has shown that it can act professionally by summoning the Daily Nation to a meeting to explain itself over the K24, 000 it has accumulated in unpaid taxes, says Civil rights activist, Brebner Changala.
He has however said while ZRA was doing an excellent job in collecting revenue on behalf of government, the institution must remain independent and professional in collecting taxes.
Mr Changala said it was the expectation of Zambians to see the authority taking action against tax defaulters and that the speed with which the institution moved in summoning the Daily Nation to explain its defaults should be applied to all companies.
The civil rights activist however advised that ZRA should not be turned into an instrument of oppression to harass and intimidate institutions playing the role of whistle blowers against companies breaking the country’s laws with impunity.
He said if it was an offence for the Daily Nation to accumulate about K24, 000 in unpaid taxes to ZRA, it was good corporate governance for the newspaper to meet its tax obligations without being reminded.
Mr Changala said ZRA must at all times resist being used to blackmail whistle blowers and those raising the red flag against the corruption that was being perpetrated by institutions close to government.
He said it was surprising that ZRA moved swiftly and summoned the Daily Nation barely 24 hours after the newspaper exposed the Post Newspaper of having accumulated more than K8 million in unpaid taxes to government.
“The Zambia Revenue Authority in doing its good work must not be seen to be used to harass and intimidate whistle blowers. It is good that the Daily Nation has been summoned over K24 000 of unpaid taxes but I am concerned with the speed the authority acted. This was done soon after the newspaper exposed the Post Newspaper that it had an outstanding of more than K8 million in unpaid taxes in Income Tax, PAYE and VAT respectively. ZRA is a professional institution and it is my hope that they were not under any instruction to summon the Daily Nation,” Mr Changala said.
He said it was ironical however that the summoning of the Daily Nation had coincided with the revelations that the Post Newspaper was abusing the relationship it was enjoying with the PF and President Sata.
Mr Changala explained that the letter written to the Daily Nation did not give the full details of how the newspaper had accumulated K24,000 but advised the newspaper to comply with ZRA and attend the meeting that had been called.