Punish tax evaders

Failure to pay tax is a criminal offence as exemplified by the conviction of 28 companies, Zambia Direct Democracy Movement (ZDDM) vice president Charles Kafumbo has charged.

He said it was therefore surprising that the Post Newspaper which claims to be a paragon of virtuer is allegedly failing to pay taxes and is expecting to be left scot-free.

Mr Kafumbo said it was morally wrong for People’s Party (PP) president Mike Mulongoti to defend the Post newspaper for failing to fulfil its tax obligations when he knew tax evasion was a criminal offence.

The Zambia Revenue authority recently secured the conviction of 28 companies  for failure to use cash registers, failure to issue tax invoices and false representation under the customs and Excise Act

But Mr. Mulongoti has branded Mr. Kafumbo a ‘‘hungry person who joined politics in order to eat’’ and therefore could not refrain from making statements he did not understand because that was his source of livelihood.

Mr. Kafumbo told the Daily Nation that it was wrong for Mr. Mulongoti to associate the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) action against the paper to Government’s alleged scheme to close the paper because the institution was compelled to meet its tax obligation just like any other business entity.

He said the Post newspaper did not need any sympathy from anyone and that Mr. Mulongoti had missed the point by attacking Government over the paper’s failure to pay tax accordingly.

“The Post newspaper owes the people of Zambia a lot of money through tax evasion and there is no way my cousin Mr. Mulongoti can blame Government for failing to settle its debts. Let us not just politicise everything simply because it suits us.  ‘‘Let them just pay their debts and all these problems will be over because I don’t think Government wants to close that institution; they are just looking for excuses,” Mr. Kafumbo said.

He said dragging the name of Government over ZRA operations was unfortunate. But when contacted for a comment, Mr. Mulongoti said his party was not shielding the paper from paying tax to Government but that it did not ‘‘ascribe to the invisible hand of Government’’ which was allegedly fixing the paper with a view to close it.

“Mr. Kafumbo is a hungry politician who has to talk in order to eat. What do you expect from such an individual? He is only talking about things he doesn’t understand so that he can put food on his table.

“No one is saying the Post should never meet its task obligation; the paper should pay and it has continued to pay. So, why should it be fixed? We are standing for media freedom in Zambia because we want to be informed at all times.

‘‘So, we shall ensure that we stand for the media houses and their reporters because we want to be informed. If you, as Daily Nation today, someone is harassing you, as a party, we shall defend you because we want media freedom in our country,” Mr. Mulongoti said.

He said closing the Post would just compound the problem as its employees will not only be jobless but the country would lose revenue through the taxes it was remitting to Government.

“If you close the Post today, where will its employees go? What about the taxes it is paying? Will Government receive taxes? Come on, we need revenue in this country,” he said.


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