Avic, the Chinese-owned company constructing the Hosea Kutako International Airport road in Windhoek has resolved the tax deduction dispute which led to the workers downing tools.
The workers said the company was deducting tax from employees while it had not registered them as taxpayers with the Namibia Revenue Agency (NamRA) and that the deducted money was not being paid over to the tax office.
On his social media platform, member of Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF) Michael Amushelelo said the resolution came after crucial intervention of NEFF.
The political party had approached Avic last week for misunderstanding regarding tax deductions.
“Avic has refunded the workers the money that was being deducted for tax and not being paid over to government. We have instructed the workers to enjoy the money and we will proceed to open a case against this Chinese company,” said Amushelelo.
He claimed government doesn’t care about the money that the company has been deducting for tax since 2019 and not paying it over to government.
Amushelelo added: “This company should be held liable and pay the tax that was supposed to be paid by the workers. This is another victory for the workers and we will continue fighting for workers and our poor masses.”
In a statement released last week by the company, project manager WeI Qiang Ding said the dispute has been resolved and workers returned to work last Thursday.
“We are not running away from paying tax. We did not steal the money as claimed,” he said.
Ding said the company had repaid the workers the money that was deducted but said the delays to register them as taxpayers was due to the bureaucracy with the registration process at NamRA.
He explained Avic had submitted the necessary documents to NamRA but said delays in allocating tax numbers to individual workers stalled the process.
Ding noted workers had the wrong perception that Avic was deducting money from their salaries and keeping it instead of paying it to NamRA.
“We ended up blaming each other, but that was not the case,” he said. Ding said when the tax registration process is completed at NamRA, the workers will still be expected to pay tax on the money that they have earned so far.
He explained that apart from the tax dispute, Avic and the workers have not had problems and said the company was compliant with all labour laws including the minimum wage, leave days and allowances as promulgated in the government gazette.
The construction of the Hosea Kutako International Airport road started in March 2020 and was expected to take 36 months but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the deadline has been moved to 38 months.