By JOHN SAKALA
Patriots for Economic Progress (PeP) President Sean Tembo says Finance Minister’s opinion and the Zambia Revenue Authority Commissioner General’s (ZRA CG)s opinion on a given tax matter, chances are higher that the ZRA CG knows what he is talking about.
Reacting to allegations by some ZRA employees’ against ZRA CG Kingsley Chanda Mr Tembo had told The Independent Observer that ZRA Boss has a rich professional background as opposed to the Minister and her thin CV.
He said allegations leveled against Mr Chanda by some ZRA employees are baseless.
Mr Tembo said the letter written by a group of concerned employees to the Minister of Finance and the Secretary to the Treasury that Commissioner General was inflating tax collection figures is a joke.
“In the said letter, the so-called concerned ZRA employees allege that the has been inflating the Authority’s tax collection figures by withholding VAT refunds and also that the K7.65 billion assessment that was recently raised against First Quantum Minerals (FQM) Kalumbila Mine is bogus on the basis that FQM is one of the most compliant mines.
“They are saying the Commissioner General was misleading the public by arguing that VAT is a better consumption indirect tax type than the sales tax proposed by the Minister of Finance in her 2019 National Budget,” he said.
He said PeP position on these allegations is that the allegations are baseless and lack merit.
Mr Tembo said one cannot inflate the tax collections by withholding tax refunds because tax collections are measured by the gross amount of funds collected in a given period and not the net amount of cash actually remitted to the treasury.
“From our point of view, the assessment that was recently raised by ZRA against FQM is legitimate and has just been undermined by political intervention. We stand with the ZRA Commissioner General’s argument that VAT is a far better consumption tax regime than the sales tax that has been announced by the Minister of Finance, for reasons that we have previously and severally stated.
“It is our view that these so-called concerned ZRA employees who are making these unfounded allegations against the Commissioner General and his senior Management team are in fact a sponsored clique designed to malign the CG for his principled stance on various tax policy issues, and thereby create a prima facie case for the termination of his employment and subsequent replacement with a puppet,” he said.
He said Minister of Finance to listen when people who understand tax policy speak.
Mr Tembo said ZRA CG is a seasoned tax expert who has not only previously worked for ZRA but has advised several governments in the region including the South African government on tax matters.
“His professional opinion on issues such as VAT vis-a-vis sales tax, needs to be given the weight it deserves. On the other hand, we are all aware that the Minister of Finance herself lacks any particular competence on tax matters. We are fully aware that her greatest qualification is being a Managing Director of a Zambian branch of an international bank.
“We are also aware that local MDs of international banks merely play a ceremonial role as all decisions, including the colour of furniture to buy, are made by head office outside the country. The local MD of an international bank is akin to a Chancellor of a University; they only appear on graduation day to confer degrees,” he said.
He said between the Minister’s opinion and the ZRA CG’s opinion on a given tax matter, chances are higher that the ZRA CG knows what he is talking about, given his rich professional background as opposed to the Minister and her thin CV.
“We wish to reiterate our previously argued point that in order for this country to develop, we need to respect our well-seasoned professionals, and Kingsley Chanda is one such professional. We cannot base our nation’s policy direction on the basis of those who speak the loudest, or the smoothest grammar, despite their shallow knowledge base,” he said.