By Timo Shihepo
Windhoek - The new Namibia Revenue Agency (Namra), which is expected to improve government’s revenue collection, is set to be operational only in October.
The revenue agency, which is being benchmarked against the revenue agencies of South Africa, Swaziland and Mauritius, is set to replace the current Inland Revenue in the Ministry of Finance.
The current Inland Revenue is deemed to have loopholes, which have led to government missing out on tax income.
Namra was expected to be operational at least by next month, however, the operational date has now been pushed to late October.
The primary mandate of the new revenue agency is to assess, collect taxes and duty on behalf of the state and administer tax, customs and excise laws.
“There has been a delay in the process and we have pushed for the starting date to October 2019. It is nothing complicated, it is just an operational matter and we already appointed the board of directors in December last year,” Ministry of Finance Permanent Secretary, Ericah Shafudah, confirmed to The Southern Times, this week.
The Namra board is led by Anna Nakale-Kawana as chairperson while Stefan Hugo is the deputy chairperson. Other board directors are Shirene Bampton, Melania Tjienda and Dennis Khama. Shafudah is also part of the board of directors.
“The appointment of the board of directors will give the opportunity for other things to happen so that come October, the Namibia Revenue Agency is operational,” said Shafudah.
The Namra board will assist the minister in ensuring that the performance of the agency is optimal through monitoring and enforcement of performance targets, as well as adherence to corporate ethics.
Namra is expected to tighten the country’s tax system loopholes, as official figures for 2017/2018 show that government is owed R2.59 billion in main taxes as only R1.3 billion was collected from taxes during the same period.
Before the current financial year ends in March, the government is hoping to collect R56 billion.
Through the Inland Revenue, and customs and excise, the government collects 30% of GDP but if revenue collected from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) is excluded then it collects only 21%.
This, without the new Namra help, however, is still above the African average of 17%.
“Namibia is way above the African average. South Africa collects about 27% of GDP, despite that they have had a revenue agency for a long time,” the Ministry of Finance says.
About 730 officials from the Inland Revenue Department and 650 from the Directorate of Customs and Excise will have to reapply for their jobs when Namra becomes operational this year.
Although they will get preferential treatment, those who do not qualify will be moved to other positions within the government.