A newspaper owned by Government still owes the Receiver of Revenue N$990 000 because it did not pay taxes deducted from its employees for several years, although they were deducted from their salaries, a Parliamentary committee heard, writes Brigitte Weidlich in The Namibian.
"Not submitting PAYE (Pay as you earn) money to the receiver is a criminal offence," said Johan de Waal, who chairs the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
"You are using the Receiver of Revenue as a bank to borrow money, but you must pay interest and penalties there, so rather borrow from a commercial bank to pay the Receiver, that is cheaper," he said to Sylvester Black, the Managing Director of New Era.
"The way you run the business is the wrong way."
Black and the newspaper's financial manager, Jeremy Cloete, were however quick to point out that they both were only appointed in 2006 and the PAYE debts dated from before that time.
"We actually tried to borrow money from commercial banks but the only collateral we would be able to use, the building we operate from, which was constructed in 2004, has not been transferred into the name of New Era.
It is a nightmare, although some progress is being made," Black said frankly.
The newspaper still owes N$120 000 to the Chinese contractor who built the building.
"The issue is made worse because the premises where our building is situated involves three plots of land (erven), which must be consolidated into one single unit, but before that can happen the ownership must be established."
Click here to read the full report, posted on The Namibian's website.