By Staff Reporter
Weeks after the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) raised red flags over a lack of transparency at the Central Procurement Board (CPBN), finance minister Calle Schlettwein has decried the institute’s report. Schlettwein told journalists that he has been following media reports that emanated from the launch of the Procurement Tracker Namibia (Issue No.8 of October 2019) by the IPPR which took place on 29 October 2019 in Windhoek.
“IPPR claims that the Central Procurement Board of Namibia (CPBN) is not forthcoming and is not transparent in making information available to the public pertaining to procurement activities.
The CPBN is governed by the Public Procurement Act, 2015 (Act no 15 of 2015). In terms of Section 55 (8) the Board is required to promptly and in a prescribed manner publish a notice of every procurement or disposal award together with the executive summary of the bid evaluation report,” he said.
The minister has slammed the IPPR for deviating from “the factual information as all procurement activities have been published on the CPBN website as required by the law”.
Information published on the CPBN website includes but not limited to: Executive Summaries by Bid Evaluation Committees, Awards, Current Bids, Board Decisions. Members of the public and the media are encouraged to visit the CPBN website on a regular basis at www.cpb.org.na
“Furthermore, I am pleased to announce that the CPBN Board has been working vigorously in addressing the issue pertaining to a lack of human capacity by adopting an organisational structure which resulted in the recruitment of highly skilled and qualified staff members.
As of 30 October 2019, CPBN staff complement stands just over thirty staff members compared to only under ten (10) staff members in March 2019.
It is also worth noting that CPBN has advertised a number of vacancies and the recruitment process has started and management has been busy conducting interviews during the month of October.
CPBN is desirous to have the majority of the vacancies filled by end of February 2020.
Schlettwein woos tax payers on the internet
The minister has announced the introduction of an incentive programme in order to encourage taxpayers not only to register as e-filers but also to continually use the online service.
He said the Ministry is offering an incentive in the form of waiving penalties charged on tax accounts, which covers the period since the launch of ITAS and ending on 30 June 2020.
He said that in order to qualify for this incentive, a taxpayer must meet the following conditions: (a). Register on ITAS portal as an e-filer; and (b) Update through online submission all tax accounts for all tax type in respect of tax returns that might be outstanding.
“Once the taxpayer has fulfilled the above conditions, penalties charged on any of the tax account will automatically be waived.
That means that the taxpayer does not need to make any form of application to have the penalties waived,” he said.
“The Integrated Tax Administration System became operational in January this year.
The overall objective of ITAS is to improve service delivery to taxpayers.
The Ministry’s aim is to reach a target of 90% of the taxpayer population register as e-filers by June 2020.
The Ministry would also like to see a shift from manual interaction between Inland Revenue Department and taxpayers to a continuous use of the online platform,” said Schlettwein.
He added that reaching this target is necessary because the Ministry may in future require taxpayers to file all tax returns electronically without an option of manual filing.
“Taxpayers who have already registered as e-filers since the launch of ITAS also benefit from this incentive.
Penalties for those without outstanding returns will be waived automatically, while those with outstanding returns must first electronically file them in order to qualify for the penalty waiver.
Updating tax accounts and filing of tax returns through ITAS portal expedites the processing of tax returns and taxpayer audit thereby preventing delays in tax assessments and refunds.
It also complements the Ministry in its efforts to eliminate current and prevent future backlog in respect of unprocessed tax returns,” he said.
Uanguta takes charge at Namra
Another announcement by the minister was that the bank of Namibia deputy governor, Ebson Uanguta would be taking over the Namibia Revenue Agency (NamRA).
“I am therefore pleased to announce that we have been assisted by the Bank of Namibia by availing the Deputy Governor Mr Ebson Uanguta to be appointed as the Commissioner of NamRa.
This will be an arrangement for the first six months to provide us with a chance to have the Commissioner together with the board, develop the structure and staff recruitment.
Thereafter Mr. Uanguta will go back to his position at the Bank and we will proceed with the recruitment of the Commissioner.
This is being done because the selection from the interview that was done did not meet all our requirements,” Schlettwein concluded.