Editor's Comment

Citizens should comply with ZRA over TPIN

SO, AFTER today, about two million customers who will not submit their Tax Payers Identification Numbers (TPIN) could have their bank accounts closed.It is a pity that it may have to come to this following non-compliance by customers holding accounts with commercial banks.
For a very long time the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) has been sensitising bank account holders to obtain TPINs and submit them to the respective financial institutions.
However, it appears all this effort has not quite resulted in the desired result. Two million is too large a number of people to be without TPINs.
Surely, most of these people did hear about the need to submit their TPINs and it looks like they just didn’t bother to heed the advice. And now they may have to pay for the consequences.
In fact, even for those who do not have TPINs, advice was given that they could have these within hours through online applications. So again, the excuse of long queues at ZRA does not hold water.
The lack of time is another lame excuse. Early this year, ZRA extended the deadline of TPIN registration from March 31 to today.
Even with this extension, just over 850,000 people have registered for TPIN across the country.
TPINs are a fairly new concept in Zambia and most people have clearly not appreciated why they should comply with the requirement.
Some fear that ZRA would be deducting money from their accounts. The unfounded fear of losing their savings to ZRA has apparently contributed to this poor response.
While it is true that access to computers is still largely confined to a few, a lot better was expected from users.
Some, however, could have been genuinely challenged in registering online even if they have the requisite tools. The registration process is requesting a lot of details, making the process difficult to complete online. It could be even more difficult in rural areas.
We hope the door has not closed permanently for those that will fail to meet today’s deadline. In any case, there are always new applicants and these have to be accommodated.
The efforts should just continue in sensitising every bank account holder to do the needful.
We are aware that some banks have actually played their part by encouraging their clients to submit their TPINs. This has been done through advertisements and SMSs.
So once again, it is not a question of clients not being aware. So the strategies going forward must be revised to ensure that the target group not only gets to know about the exercise but to also actually register their numbers.
New strategies could include travel shows and more involvement of mobile service providers. Some people’s evident fears have to be demystified.
This is not the responsibility of ZRA alone, but for everyone because the impact of over a million closed bank accounts, big and small, would be dire on the economy.
Businesses could ground to a halt, salaries would not be paid, services would slow down and just about every other economic and social activity would be adversely affected.
This scenario is avoidable. Collective efforts should keep accounts open and businesses operating without any challenge of not having TPINs.
The biggest challenge though, is getting Zambians to realise that they have to move with times. These times call for one to have a TPIN.
They should also perish any thoughts of having alternative ways of saving their money and transacting. Use the banks. It is for their good and for the collective good of the country.

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