The Minister of Finance should be serious and stop destroy PF by bringing unnecessary taxes like this amendment which is in bad faith, just withdraw it tapaba insoni (don’t be ashamed), Chishimba Kambwili told Felix Mutati in Parliament yesterday.
But Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo said it was wrong for certain MPs to attend Parliament with mischievous ideas claiming to be representing the poor people.
In Parliament yesterday, Mutati proposed an amendment to the income-tax Act, wishing to increase the presumptive tax. He said his proposal to increase the presumptive tax by K2 in mini buses and K32 on a 64 seater bus was to protect the erosion of tax. However, before the amendment could be agreed on, leader of the opposition Jack Mwiimbu shot it down and was joined by other MPs who also objected to it.
“Madam chairperson, I move that Clause 16 on page nine, in lines 11 to 23 be deleted as per the notice of amendment which was circulated. The minister of finance is saying that this increment is neither here nor there, if that is his argument then there is no need for this increment. But the fact of the matter is that public transporters have been lumbered with a lot of taxes. And these taxes are being transferred to the ordinary passenger and traveler in this country. These public transporters are being charged insurance, road tax, there are so many taxes which they are being charged. As a result of these various licenses, the cost of doing business as a public transporter is high. They are transferring these costs to the ordinary citizens,” Mwiimbi said.
“Multitudes of people are walking because they cannot afford public transport. This tax is not serving any purpose. He can do away with it.”
Kambwili said PF members should not forget that the party was formed to lower taxes and help the poor.
“I want the people on the right to reflect on whether indeed they are running the Patriotic Front that we founded with President Micheal Sata. I want my colleagues on the right to reflect seriously about the intention of forming the Patriotic Front and getting into government. One of the intentions was for lower taxes and putting more money in the pockets of the poor. The question that we should ask ourselves today, ‘who uses public transport?’ Some of them can stand today and say I support because they have government vehicles, they have fuel allowance which they are given, so they don’t feel the pinch and honourable Mutati…,” Kambwili said before he was interrupted by Copperbelt Minister Bowman Lusambo.
Deputy Speaker Catherine Namugala moved in and ordered Lusambo to go back to his seat, she further guided Kambwili not to draw his colleagues into the debate.
“Ya! Bwafya… Anyway what I was saying is people must reflect. They should not forget the basis for which PF was formed. If indeed government needs money to run the social services, why go and buy a fire engine at $1 million each? And after you buy expensive fire engines, you want to buy expensive ambulances then you want to transfer these costs to the poor people. Why can’t you introduce a tax on GX vehicles that are driven by ministers and leave the poor people alone? You can’t come, stand here and say ‘I support the proposal, what is K2?’ people feed on K2 in my constituency,” said Kambwili.
“So be serious, don’t destroy PF by bringing unnecessary taxes. PF belongs to the poor people. Minister this amendment is in bad faith just withdraw it. Tapaba insoni just withdraw. Your conscious must tell you that this is bad. A K2 Is a lot of money for the poor.”
Meanwhile Kampyongo said a consultative process was carried out with the stakeholders before Mutati could come up with the proposal.
“This proposal to adjust the presumptive tax was not done without consultations. If hourable Jack Mwiimbu had cared to find out, the stakeholders who are the operators themselves were consulted. These thresholds which the minister of finance is proposing was agreed upon. We come to this house to debate based on facts, not assumptions and hearsay.
“There is no country madam Chairperson were you don’t see people in the morning waking up from their homes, walking to different places. Even in Europe were the transport system is so perfect, you will see people walking back and forth for different activities,” said Kampyongo.
“So lets not pretend here that even if there was no this measure there will still be no people walking back and forth to different places. We are a responsible government that wants to make sure that our people and the travelling public are looked after. The minister of finance has been very considerate. We are the pro poor government and we shall continue to be that. So madam Chairperson we are not going to accept people coming here with mischievous ideas of trying to pretend as if they are the only ones who care about our poor people. We are supporting the honourable minister of finance with this measure so that we can serve our people better.”