Home » General » SPB Paye Saga Could Be a Tip of the Iceberg

WE have said it before, but it bears repeating until someone takes heed: There is need to fix systems in State institutions to close loopholes exploited by individuals and gangs to milk the nation.

Yesterday we carried a story of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority garnishing the State Procurement Board’s bank account to recover over $1 million the board owes in PAYE for its chairperson Mr Charles Kuwaza.

Zimra has moved in to claim its dues after media exposes last year showed that many of those at the top of State enterprises and related institutions were earning huge untaxed incomes which they classified as allowances. These people simply ignored the law on PAYE and created their own rules where some had a “paper” salary which did not reflect the actual amounts that they took home each month.

In Mr Kuwaza’s case the $1 million dollars is for his personal tax bill dating back to 2009 and he has refused to comply with a request by Zimra to provide a payment plan.

All the other SPB employees had their PAYE remitted to Zimra. What boggles the mind is how the State Procurement Board which oversees the approval of all State tenders could have a system with such a malfunction in which the head person institutionalises tax evasion.

Where were the checks and balances that are meant to immediately raise red flags when such an anomaly occurs? Have the books of the board been regularly audited? If so, to whom were the books presented to and what action was taken to rectify that glaring case of criminal conduct?

If the action went unnoticed then that makes the whole situation even worse. In what other ways has the SPB been failing to conduct its business in an acceptable and transparent manner? What prejudice has the nation suffered due to this negligence or intentional misconduct?

Even more important, is there any legislation in place to bring Mr Kuwaza to book for tax evasion? Now it looks like the SPB is being penalised and not the man himself. Does that mean that there is a document somewhere which says that he is immune?

Tax evasion is a serious crime and in other countries it automatically earns those caught out some serious jail time.

So how can we have a country where an individual is free to ignore the revenue authority of the land and expect people to respect the system?

We must make it clear that we are not gunning for an individual and any one organisation, but simply reiterating our call for operational roadblocks to curb corruption. The cost of corruption has been estimated to run into billions for the national economy over the past few years.

Corruption has been named as the number one enemy to our national development as it has worsened the negative impact of the illegal economic sanctions imposed by the West. It is not enough for us to repeatedly parrot the President when he says we must weed out corruption.

Those responsible must implement this directive. Knowing the problem is only the first step to solving it.

The Fourth Estate has played its part commendably in exposing the rot, and now it is left to those in power to make sure that the cancer is excised out of the flesh of national interest. And we believe the first step is to design systems that will help us not go through another “Salarygate”.

Even if it is too late to prosecute some of the current miscreants that is the best reason to create a deterrent climate for any others who may want to go the same way in the future.

Source : The Herald