07 Nov 2016 09:30am
OSHAKATI, 07 NOV (NAMPA) The Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) Northern Branch and Ministry of Finance (MOF) on Friday discussed tax issues faced by entrepreneurs in the northern regions.
Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein and other staff from the ministry were present at the meeting here to also discuss ways forward and how the challenges could be addressed.
NCCI Northern Branch Chairperson, Thomas Indji told delegates the meeting was held to request the ministry to attend to a series of concerns and queries from businesspeople in the northern regions regarding the status of the Namibian economy and how the reviewed National Budget of 2016/2017 will impact the private sector, especially the small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Indji said the onset of the tax system negatively impact the growth of businesses, especially the SME sector that cannot afford the services of big and renowned auditing companies.
The issue of value added tax (VAT) returns has so far been solved thanks to the ministrys effort and funding in training the youth in basic record keeping - a project that was implemented by the University of Namibia Oshakati Campus Small Business Development Centre (UNAM SBDC) and the NCCI, but what we are currently faced with are the challenges of bookkeepers serving the SMEs lacking the experience and knowledge beyond VAT preparation. We also have very few registered accounting officers in the northern regions.
The minister has on various occasions identified the need to improve tax collection for Government to increase public revenue but the daunting process of administration in tax collection can be discouraging to entrepreneurs and individuals who then avoid filing tax returns.
Iindji said the NCCI, UNAM SBDC and Ministry of Finance need to map out a strategy on how to capacitate the available bookkeepers for them to prepare credible and realistic tax returns.
The NCCI Northern Branch further expressed concerns over the ministrys freezing of tenders and feasibility studies, saying that despite its ability to reduce Government spending, this also has the negative impact of reducing the circulation of money in the economy, which effects the survivability of businesses and the retention of needed jobs.
It is our strongest hope that your ministry will revisit this decision as soon as possible, the chairperson requested.
The meeting took place just a week after the tabling of the 2016/17 Mid-Year Budget Review that witnessed the cutting and suspension of about N.dollars 5.5 billion from the 2016/17 National Budget.
Schlettwein told delegates at the meeting that a cut of N.dollars 1 billion was made for reallocation to urgent priority needs under the various Budget Votes.
The budget cuts that we have announced are necessitated by the impact of negative shocks on the domestic economy and public revenue, which have been unfolding over the past three years or so.
On the issue of bookkeepers, Schlettwein said it is the ministrys obligation to ensure the efficient provision of taxpayer services; timely and objective assessment and audit; skills development; and the professional conduct of its staff members.
The benefit principle of taxation binds the government to a social contract to provide public services and public infrastructure in the general expense of tax revenue.