“We regret to advise that your payment has been rejected as employers are now required to submit their monthly returns online using the National Pension Scheme Authority(NAPSA) website portal, the notice reads in part from NAPSA.”
It appears that statutory bodies such as Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA), NAPSA, Patent and Companies Registration Agency ( PACRA) have gone electronic in the processing of returns.
NAPSA, from December 13 2016, posted on its public notice boards that it was no longer going to accept monthly returns submitted manually at its submission points.
This is so because the authority has created its website portal where registered employers are expected to submit monthly returns online.
PACRA equally has also introduced electronic procession of not only returns but other services as well, but has mounted training while accepting submissions manually and has not put a deadline to the submissions of manual returns yet..
Now the Act of Parliament that ushered in NAPSA requires all businesses that administers workers under them and are responsible for their salaries and wages to register with the authority within one month of starting business.
This sweeping piece of legislation entails that those small and medium enterprises (SMEs) who administer workers and are known as employers are expected to submit their monthly returns online.
The number of NAPSA registered employers countrywide is huge and SMEs are a large part of registered employers.
The authority has gone electronic in submission of monthly returns among others which is a good move in the sense that it is cutting down on queues of people submitting and verifying of returns.
Soon the authority will introduce online payment system meaning that employers will be required to submit returns and make payment from the comfort of their offices a move in the right direction.
The online procedure to follow by employers is relatively simple but it appears that the authority has rushed the online procedure on employers especially the SMEs without mounting a sensitising programme for them.
Drawing the lesson from the Zambia revenue authority introduction of tax online and the challenges faced by SMEs, the one month which the NAPSA gave to employers to register as online users is insufficient.
This is so considering that it has taken ZRA a substantial amount of time to sensitise taxpayers especially SMEs on how to use tax online even in cases where the tax office has put in place an admirable training system for online users ZRA introduced tax online system in October 2013 and went on to introduce a computer lab bureau where ZRA staff has since that time related to taxpayers especially the SMEs on how to use the system.
But up to date when one goes to ZRA at peak times it is like ZRA has not done enough in three years because some SMEs are still submitting tax returns manually.
SMEs face a number of challenges in adapting to online system for the following reasons:
1) Most of them are computer illiterate
2) They don’t own computers
3) They don’t use internet services even on their phones or tablets
4) They don’t use internet cafes
5) Others operate in remote areas where such services are not there
6) Others have no interest.
NAPSA should analyse its data base for registered employers and devise a plan on how they can reach to them and bring them on board to ensure that they are hooked to the system and this requires them to think outside the box.
What I have discovered as I interact with SMEs is that corporate entities have no problem with these systems because they have the necessary faculties and employ professionals who are able to relate smoothly with the systems.
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