By THEMBEKA DLAMINI | 2018-01-14
Striking workers are taking exception to being excluded from accolades heaped on Swaziland Revenue Authority employees who collected above targeted revenue for the month of December.
On Sunday, following the publication that the authority had collected seven per cent more than the monthly target of E1.0231 billion after collections stood at E1.0926 billion, striking workers said they were not pleased about the way they were reflected in this report.
“The reports of the collections seem to suggest that the collected E1billion was the work of their contingency plan for the strike action going on currently,” employees said.
They said there was need to educate those outside their workplace about the nature of revenue collection as it would give a true reflection on how this money came about.
“Much of the collections for the month of December are done in the month of November. Reminders for taxpayers to pay their provisional tax by December 31st are done in November.
This was already done when the strike began,” the workers said in a message which circulated from last Sunday.
They explained how in preparation for the festive season, taxpayers import a lot of their goods in November and most of them pay through what is known as deferred account.
“This VAT is paid a month later after the goods have been imported into the country. In this case, the importation was done in November and processed by the striking employees with the VAT payable in December which forms part of the E1billion they claim to have collected.”
Continuing they explained how, after all these collections, it doesn't end there as there are VAT refunds that have to be repaid resulting in a huge chunk of the collections returning to the pockets of tax payers.
“As you can all recall, the processing of refunds is one of operations that have not been operational for the month of December,” the statement read in part with the employees estimating that about E500million gets absorbed during this process.
The workers reiterated that the collections done by short staffed SRA were actually done in November by the striking employees.
Further, the E1billion was said to be not Net-off refunds hence it is not a true reflection of December collections until refunds for December are paid.
We cannot pay workers – SRAWU
January will be a worrisome month for those who partook in the month-long strike at the Swaziland Revenue Authority (SRA) as their union has revealed they will not be able to compensate them.
“The union is fairly young and does not have means to pay striking workers,” General Secretary Moses Masilela said adding that the workers knew when resolving to strike that theirs would be a no-work no-pay phenomenon.
When workers were questioned about their financial status, several said they were aware they were now worse off and were prepared to weather the storm; this was prior to their meeting yesterday.
They said they had dug into their savings whereas others relied on family members for sustenance.
Workers vow to ignore backlog
Striking Swaziland Revenue Authority (SRA) workers have vowed to ignore backlog they might find on their return to work.
This they said prior to reaching an agreement to return to work on Tuesday, a decision reached during a meeting held yesterday.
“We are aware that several departments have been closed in our absence and this is not our problem. Management will have to come up with a solution to this as they have made themselves seem competent and capable of doing everything without junior staff,” they said.
No more media
Friday saw SRA management and striking worker representatives resolve to stop talking through the media.
When a comment was sought for clarification of the collections, Director of Communications Vusi Dlamini said he was not at liberty to respond to questions as they had reached an agreement with Swaziland Revenue Authority Workers’ Union (SRAWU).
A subsequent message sent yesterday read in part.
“We agreed with union leadership to stop engaging on public domain on issues related to the SRA strike to allow smooth engagement between parties.”
On the other hand, SRAWU Secretary General Moses Masilela was willing to confirm workers’ feelings and convictions prior to meeting with Minister Winnie Magagula in the morning on Friday, he was to later retract all comments by the afternoon.
“The parties here have found a new spirit of engaging each other in trying to find a solution to the ongoing impasse at SRA,” he said in a message when leaving the meeting with the minister and further sought understanding.
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