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SPOT CHECKS FOR TAX EVASION, ILLEGAL FOREX

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MBABANE – Government has issued a stern warning following reports of tax evasion and other illegal business practices.


A joint press statement by the ministries of Commerce, Industry and Trade (CIT), Finance as well as Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) claimed that some business establishments were deliberately not complying with the country’s business operating statutes, much to the detriment of the economy.


The strong-worded statement is entitled ‘voluntary business compliance to country’s statutes.’ 
According to the statement from Minister of CIT Senator Manqoba Khumalo (also Acting ICT) and his Finance counterpart, Neal Rijkenberg, these businesses were conducting cash transactions than the use of electronic platforms such as Point of Sale (POS), Mobile Money payments and so on.


Deposit


The said businesses are further being accused of not banking locally and keeping cash either at home,  their shops or ship money to deposit into international accounts.
The businesses are further said to be not declaring their true income for tax purposes.
Notably, the issue of offshore accounts once dominated newspaper headlines several years ago.


“These businesses give their customers international accounts to deposit their payments; inclusive of Value Added Tax (VAT) which should be paid to the Eswatini Revenue Authority and conduct illegal foreign exchange (FOREX) services within their businesses,” reads the statement in part.


Reprimanded


In the statement, government reprimanded the businesses that tax evasion, money laundering and dealing in forex without the necessary authorisation, remained illegal in terms of the country’s laws.
“We, therefore, wish to caution these businesses to desist from such devious business practices.


“Furthermore, retail and car dealership industries are encouraged to review their business models and make the necessary changes in the spirit of voluntary compliance,” said government.
Government, through these three ministries, announced that it was currently working on reforms to address these gaps and come up with technological solutions.


“We shall also be conducting random spot checks on businesses and there will be severe penalties on non-compliance,” reads the statement.


Reaction


Sought for a reaction, a local analyst, on condition of anonymity, claimed the move by government was one way of addressing the revenue shortfall that has been caused by the effect of COVID-19.
Business Eswatini CEO Nathi Dlamini was reported to be in a meeting when sought for his reaction to the latest developments.

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