POST Newspaper employees are shocked the new K53 million tax debt assessments by the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) was a result of investigations into tax evasion by the newspaper and are now demanding for a forensic audit to determine how billions of kwacha deducted from their salaries and VAT were used instead of being remitted to the tax body.
The employees are shocked that ZRA discovered the attempts by the Post Newspaper to avoid tax payment which had accumulated to more than K53 million.
The employees are now demanding that Post Newspaper owner, Fred M’membe should explain how he used the money that was deducted from their salaries and VAT for the newspaper to have accumulated such a huge and staggering tax debt.
They also fear that the company might not have been sending their contributions to the National Pensions and Savings Authority (NAPSA).
The workers spoke out about their plight for the first time yesterday after some of them were sent on forced leave following the closure of the newspaper by ZRA two weeks ago.
“We are shocked that there was an attempt of tax evasion happening right under our noses by our company. It had to take ZRA to conduct investigations into our tax compliance to discover that we had accumulated a K53 million tax debts apart from the K14 million for which ZRA closed our operations. ‘‘There is a general sense of distress here because those who have been asked to stay away have not been paid and are not even certain as to whether they will receive their salaries because the boss has formally announced that the company accounts have been frozen by the Zambia Revenue Authority,” the source said.
The sources said that the workers were concerned that while PAYE and NAPSA were deducted the newspaper had not been remitting the money to ZRA, leading to the accumulation of more than K53 million debts. They fear that the newspaper might not be resuscitated and they might not get anything as benefits for the years they have worked for the company.
It was learnt yesterday that The Post last week asked some of its senior journalists to stay away from work as the newspaper was working out means of reopening and begin normal operations.
But sources at the Post Newspapers said the affected employees were worried that they would not receive their June salaries as management had earlier informed them that the newspaper’s bank accounts had been frozen.
The source said many workers had realised that the newspaper had been used them to fight certain political battles and governments the newspaper did not like.
The source accused the newspaper of having maliciously fought political leaders that had resisted to be ‘‘colonised’’ and that most of the young men and women at the newspaper would find it difficult to find jobs in either Government or quasi-government institutions because of the reputation of the newspaper.
“You know how Zambians feel about the Post Newspaper and our boss. There is a general perception that our boss has used the newspaper to fight his own political and financial battles with every government he did not like.
‘‘There is a belief that whoever differed with the boss became a target of malice, slander, innuendos and blatant abuse. He has fought anyone who had refused to be colonised and this has had a bearing on how even workers are viewed,” the source said.
The source said most Government officials were not ready or willing to interact with journalists from the Post Newspaper because most of them had become victims of illegal recordings of their conversations.