Nam Land Tax Freeze
…farmers heave sigh of relief
Windhoek – Commercial farmers in Namibia are breathing a little easier after the government withdrew the 2012 Provisional Valuation Roll.
The government had sought to collect R400 million over five years from its Valuation Roll.
But the farmers opposed the Roll saying it was going to increase their tax by as much as 600 percent in some instances.
Apart from freezing the tax regime, Minister of Lands and Resettlement Alpheus !Naruseb has also said the Valuation Court sitting ‑ which was scheduled for May 2013 ‑ had also been cancelled.
This was after the ministry realised that more than half of objections received (3 900) had raised several legal issues that required the attention of the Attorney-General.
The ministry now awaits advice from the Attorney-General on the legal issues raised by the farmers.
“Once the ministry is done with the whole process, a new Provisional Valuation Roll will be put on display for public viewing, hopefully within the next three months,” he said.
The Valuation Court is now expected to sit in July 2013. Government statistics show that only R25m has been raised per year from taxing commercial farmers since 2004.
The government says for it to reach its target of acquiring 15 million hectares of farmland by 2020 under land reforms, it needs to acquire at least 280 000ha per year, which will cost R370m per annum.
October 2012 statistics from the Namibia Agriculture Union show that black Namibians hold 9.46 million hectares of commercial farmland in the country, nearly two-thirds of government’s resettlement target for 2020.
But the Namibian government concedes that land reform under the “willing-buyer, willing-seller” policy has been slow and that white farmers set land prices out of the state’s reach.
The government is planning to effect changes to the Agricultural Land Reform Act to compel landowners to consent to inspection of their land by the Lands Ministry for purposes of acquisition.
Some farmers have been blocking government officials from inspecting their properties.
The Ministry of Lands and Resettlement plans to amend two land laws after identifying loopholes in the legislation that the ministry says have slowed implementation of the land reform programme.
These are the Agricultural (Commercial) Land Reform Act of 1995 and the Communal Land Reform Act of 2000.