By BUUMBA CHIMBULU
THE Minister of Finance, Mrs Margaret Mwanakatwe, should ensure that the tax burden in the 2019 national budget does not stifle people’s livelihoods, says acting President Inonge Wina.
Ms Wina said while Zambians should pay taxes, the tax burden should not stifle their livelihoods.
Government, she said, would ensure that the tax burden was fairly distributed according to the principle of ability to pay.
She said if taxpayers in reciprocation voluntarily recognised their moral and civic duty to pay taxes, it could only be a win-win outcome.
Ms Wina was speaking yesterday in Lusaka during the official launch of the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) service centre at the Cosmopolitan Shopping Mall.
“My government wants to see to it that while Zambians should pay taxes, the tax burden should not stifle their livelihoods. I am hopeful that the minister of Finance will consider this important point when she presents the 2019 national budget.
“It is the desire of Government that tax administration should be more consultative and responsive to the peculiar needs of all taxpayers,” she said.
Ms Wina also observed the need to ensure that there were no sacred cows in the tax system while ensuring that taxes were fair for every tax payer.
She explained that this was one sure way of reducing the poverty levels because, then, people would have more money to spend on their basic needs.
“Government expects the commissioner-general and his management team to proactively engage all stakeholders to help the country cultivate and sustain a positive culture of paying taxes among our citizens.
“They should forge effective partnerships with other enforcement agencies to undertake joint enforcement in order to reduce enforcement costs and make tax administration more cost-effective, efficient, equitable, simple and responsive to economic growth,” she said.
Speaking at the same function, acting Minister of Finance, Emerine Kabanshi, said the launch of the service centre would increase ZRA’s capacity to collect more revenue.
Ms Kabanshi pledged the ministry’s support towards the implementation of various revenue collection measures.
Meanwhile, ZRA commissioner-general, Kingsley Chanda, said the authority intended to start providing 24 hours tax services depending on how the centres to be opened countrywide would perform.
Mr Chanda said ZRA has already started with some border posts and that it intended to expand to other services such as the call centre.
“Our intention is to continue increasing our presence throughout the country to make it easier for people to pay taxes. This is the reason why we are continuously taking our services closer to the people,” he said.
He also warned that ZRA would not relent in the enforcement of tax laws and that it would continue pursuing all tax evaders without fear or favour.