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Zambia's revenue authority disregards tribunal order to reopen newspaper

Zambia's revenue authority disregards tribunal order to reopen newspaper

Zambia

The Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) has disregarded a tribunal order to reopen the offices of The Post newspaper which was closed in June over non payment of taxes.

A Tax Appeals Tribunal reaffirmed its instructions to the ZRA but the newspapers’ offices remain closed.

On July 27, 2016, the tribunal ordered tax collectors to hand over seized properties of the newspaper until a full appeal can be heard and to initiate an immediate process through which the company could pay undisputed amounts to the revenue authority .

I accordingly dismiss this application with the costs to the appellants. The ex-parte order granted herein continues and extends to such a time when the main appeal will be heard.

The tribunal’s registrar, Chola Shapi Mutambo, dismissed with costs, the ZRA’s application to set aside the order granted to Post Newspapers Limited.

In her ruling last Wednesday, Mutambo said she was satisfied that the newspaper publisher had adhered to all the requirements of the Tax Appeals Tribunal Act. The substantive case would however to heard at a later date.

“I find that the respondent’s (ZRA) application to dismiss the notice of appeal and discharge the … order has no merit to justify such action. I accordingly dismiss this application with the costs to the appellants. “ Mutambo is quoted to have said.

In June, officials of the Zambia Revenue Authority – according to the Post, under instruction from the government and accompanied by security officers – went to the offices of the newspaper demanding disputed tax arrears of about Sh 68 million ($6.1 million)

Local media report that despite explanations by the paper’s head of finance that the amounts had been settled, a ZRA officer insisted they had not been received and were therefore required to seize assets.

Editors of the paper were also arrested and appeared in court for defying police orders by printing and selling copies of the paper outside its closed offices.

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