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STATEMENT BY THE RT HON PRIME MINISTER

 

DR B.SIBUSISO DLAMINI

Read by the Hon Deputy Prime Minister, Senator Paul Dlamini

 

SUBMITTING THE PRIME MINISTER’S ANNUAL INCOME TAX RETURN FOR 2016/17

 

WEDNESDAY 8 NOVEMBER 2017

 

Honourable Minister for Finance

Commissioner-General of the Swaziland Revenue Authority

The Media

Ladies and gentlemen

Today I am submitting my personal income tax return for the 2016/17 tax year.  I regret that, owing to other commitments, I am unable to be here at the Swaziland Revenue Authority to present it in person.  But the tax return will be submitted on my behalf by my daughter Sibusisiwe, and the Honourable Deputy Prime Minister, Senator Paul Dlamini, has kindly agreed to read my statement to those present and, indeed, to the general public.

I am submitting the income tax return, and making this public statement for two reasons.  The first is because I am obliged by law, in common will all adults, to submit this return on an annual basis.  And, secondly, I feel the obligation to do so publicly in order to set an example for adults to follow.  This year, the deadline for the submission of personal returns has been moved back a month to 30 November 2017.  The deadline for companies registered for VAT has also been changed, the deadline extended to 31 December 2017.

Most countries of the world rely upon tax revenue to finance their public services.  There are very few exceptions, invariably being countries with massive mineral resources, and not needing an additional source of public revenue.  Swaziland is not among those.  For our country the public revenue figures are challenging since a large part of our income comes from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and we have a relatively low level of domestic source revenue.  In fact, at only 12.4% our tax-to-GDP ratio is considerably lower than that of the other countries in the southern Africa region. 

With the trend of receipts from SACU in a downward trajectory into the medium term, it should go without saying that, in order to maintain and improve public service delivery, we must increase our domestic source revenue.  And taxation is the main component in that source of income.

 

Historically we have had great difficulty in bringing into the tax net all adults earning an income above the tax free band. Creating the Swaziland Revenue Authority in 2011 was one giant step to improving the efficiency of our tax assessment and collection system.  The processes brought into action by the SRA have improved efficiency and the tax revenue has increased substantially.   But, as the expression goes, Rome was not built in a day and we reluctantly have to acknowledge that there is still a great deal of tax evasion in the country. Our low tax-to-GDP ratio provides a fairly strong hint in this regard.

Those who have not registered for tax, or have registered but do not submit tax returns, or do not pay the assessed tax are, in the first instance, behaving selfishly.  How can they possibly expect others to contribute to keeping our education, health, security and other public services up to standard when they themselves do not pay anything towards it?  And, secondly, they are breaking the law.  That is a serious matter.

The SRA is now carrying out lifestyle audits and, for an individual to be exposed as a tax cheat from such investigations, would be both embarrassing as well as very costly in terms of additional tax assessed and the accompanying penalties.  So my submission today is accompanied by an appeal to all the adults of our country, to please ensure you have registered to obtain a taxpayer identification number, known as the TIN, and ensure that a duly completed income tax return is submitted each year to the SRA and that assessed tax is paid promptly. 

This is not an optional process but a mandatory one.  It will never be an acceptable excuse that an individual did not understand what tax was about and that he, or she, might somehow be exempted from paying tax.  The public education programme was extensive and thorough, and the public reminders are frequent.

One of my current concerns, as Head of Government is that, owing to our financial challenges, we are unable to pay our bills as quickly as we would like.  I take this opportunity to remind the general public that all valid bills will be paid.  Government never fails to settle its debts.  We regret the delays and I take the opportunity today to say that if you, whether as an individual or within an enterprise, are not reporting your annual income via tax returns to the SRA, then you are contributing to Government’s delay in paying outstanding bills, as well as threatening the continuity of essential public services.

I must also mention that the continuing integration of Government data bases will give rise to improved correlation of data from various sources with taxpayer status in terms of TIN and income tax returns.  This will also reduce tax evasion but where this reveals tax evasion, it will give rise to penalties. I do sincerely hope that, in making a public display of submitting my tax return in time for the new deadline of 30 November, I have reminded and motivated all adults to meet their tax responsibilities like committed members of our population.

Thank you.  

 

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