May 9, 2005

Government warns hundreds of farmers

Government has warned the owners of more than 1.000 farms to complete forms regarded as crucial in determining commercial land holding in Namibia, or face five years behind bars.
The Ministry of Lands and Resettlement threw down the gauntlet in a newspaper advertisement, stating that tens of hundreds of landowners have failed to furnish Government with their postal addresses as required by law. The advertisement names the owners of 1.091 farming units. They have been given until the end of this month to provide their addresses and to complete the forms. The Ministry threatened those who failed to comply with a fine of N$20.000, five years in jail, or both as stipulated in the Land Valuation and Taxation Regulations: Agricultural (Commercial) Land Reform Act (1995).

In the past, the lack of interest has forced the Ministry to postpone, several times, the publication of a provisional valuation roll of agricultural properties several times.
Farmers are required to disclose the number of farms they own, their total number of hectares, names and nationalities of the owners. The data will be used to determine the amount of money the farmers will pay under a land tax that was introduced at the beginning of April last year. The tax was first announced in April 2003 but was not implemented. The move is aimed at compelling farmers to sell excess land to Government for the resettlement of landless black Namibians.

Through the proposed land taxation, Government estimates it will be able to raise revenue of around N$20 million each year. The tax rate for absentee landlords is likely to be pushed up after one year, when a re-evaluation of the rates will be done. Until last year, commercial farmland was exempt from taxation. The implementation strategy for the land tax requires four phases for the creation of a valuation roll of all taxable properties. These phases include the property identification exercise, the creation of the valuation roll, objections and the sitting of the valuation court, and billing and collecting. In terms of the proposed land tax, farmers will not be taxed on improvements they have made on their farms. (The Namibian, Windhoek)


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