10 Oct 2013 11:50am
WINDHOEK, 10 OCT (NAMPA) - The Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) has urged all land owners to adhere to the laws of Namibia, which include the payment of land tax.
A recent ruling by the High Court of Namibia on the validity of the Valuation Court, and a court application which challenged the current legislation on which land tax is payable have created confusion among farm owners on whether they should pay their land tax or not.
The payment of land tax was due on 30 September, and was determined by the Valuation Court in 2008, based on the old valuation roll.
In terms of the Agricultural Land Reform Act of 1995, failure to pay land tax might result in a fine of N.dollars 20 000, or imprisonment for five years, or both.
The preliminary valuations of commercial land in 2012 have been withdrawn, and more than 2 500 objections were filed in July 2013.
The NAU said in a statement following its 67th annual congress here on Tuesday that the situation resulted in land owners being concerned and frustrated that the land valuation process, in its present form, will potentially cause the financial collapse of many enterprises.
The union thus suggested that land tax should be based on a transparent model suitable for the Namibian demographic requirements, fair, affordable, equitable and in line with internationally-accepted tax laws.
The congress also took note that the Valuation Court - scheduled for the first part of September 2013 - was declared invalid, based on non-compliance with certain sections of the Act and Regulations.
The NAU stated that it anticipates that land owners will again be granted an opportunity to exercise their legal right to object to the valuation of their land at the Valuation Court.
The union then requested consultations with the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement; Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, as well as the Ministry of Finance to review, in conjunction with all relevant parties including the NAU, the methodology in terms of which agricultural land is valued as prescribed in the present regulations for future valuations, and in doing so addressing the objections filed in July 2013.
It also wants to negotiate with the same ministries to align the present provisional valuation roll with the real situation on the ground, with specific reference to the carrying capacity and production value of agricultural land before the next Valuation Court is commissioned.
If not successful, consider alternative strategies in bringing about a transparent methodology in the determination of land values for land tax purposes which are aligned with the economic realities of agriculture in Namibia, which are fair and affordable, it added.
The new valuation roll, which will be valid for five years, is set to replace the previous farm valuation roll which was valid until the end of March this year.
Meanwhile, the union also distanced itself from the current legal action challenging the constitutionality of land tax, but claimed that the present methodology in determining the rates is intrinsically flawed.
Congress expressed its concern that the present methodology as it appears in the Regulations is intrinsically flawed, and does not comply with a model of economic stability that is financially justifiable, it said.