Zambia Revenue Authority Commissioner General Kingsley Chanda says as a taxman, he does not expect people to like him even though he is collecting revenue on behalf of the nation.
Featuring on ZNBC’s Sunday Interview last evening, Chanda regretted the recent negative stories written about him, describing them as mere distractions.
Before the ZRA sought a court order restraining UPP from issuing any statements against the Authority, party president Saviour Chishimba questioned Chanda’s dealings at his former company before he was appointed commissioner.
“UPP seizes this occasion to ask ZRA to state its position over direct or indirect dealings with CilTax Consultants over the years. There is a heap of very serious issues that we shall present before the courts of laws to show how the nation is losing revenues because of corrupt senior officers at ZRA and the political elite who have taken taxpayers for granted for far too long,” said Saviour.
“It is common knowledge that every organisation, as a legal person, is personified by the people who are leading it. Likewise, ZRA is personified by the Commissioner General, Mr. Kingsley Chanda, and other senior officers. This is the reason why all public officers are required by law to declare the direct or indirect interests that they have in entities that have questionable dealings with public bodies under which they are called to serve.”
Rebutting the allegations, Chanda told Sunday Interview host Franklin Tembo Jnr that even in the bible, taxmen were despised.
“There has never been anywhere in the past, including in the Bible, where a tax man was liked. You remember when Zackeo (Zachaus) met Jesus, everyone was apprehensive. How can Jesus meet such an unclean person? So that perception is historical, it’s biblical but once the population starts seeing government programmes being financed, road construction companies being financed, like it is happening now, it is because of the money that the tax payers are contributing,” Chanda said.
“For me when I see that I feel sad because if a person can concoct a story, like the stories that have been written about me, which any sensible person would believe it is true, I think it is a waste of such a wonderful resource. Such creative people should write creative books or write fiction movies, because they can make money.”
Programme host Franklyn Tembo Jnr then asked Chanda to clarify the perception that ZRA was sometimes used to settle political scores.
“Do you have examples of that? Well, the fact is that as the Commissioner General’s office is structured at the moment, a Commissioner General legally is supposed to be appointed by the President. So any President at any given time will appoint his Commissioner General, just as he appoints his senior government officials. But even when you’re appointed…, his message is very clear, to me, in particular, you have to be very professional. You have a country to serve, you must be above politics, you must be above petty issues – that is the message he gave me,” Chanda said.
“There is no point at which ZRA in my time, even ten years ago before I left, I was Commissioner of Customs and even my seven months after I retained, I have never received any instructions to fix anyone for political reasons because ZRA actions are always guided by provisions of the law, and tax payers or indeed citizens have recourse to the courts of law when they feel they have been unfairly treated.”
And Chanda was said K93 million had been collected in the first nine from the projected K2.5 billion.
“In fact, you will be impressed to know that the K93 million that we have collected is not even from the big tax payers. For the big tax payers our strategy has been when you saw that in the first three four days, they were not coming forward. We have decided to print their tax account and we engage them and we invite them to discuss that tax liability. But the people who have taken advantage of this amnesty are the SMEs,” said Chanda.
“That gives government the necessary liquidity to provide goods and services. I’m hoping that when such tangible things are seen by the population and appreciated, maybe through that appreciation, ZRA will also get appreciated.”