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Why TFF merits shameful TRA `clearing out` of its accounts

25th November 2012
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It takes time to get a valid picture of how a country’s psychology is structured, for it is silent, operating in day to day incidents which never speak of their actual motivations but are steeped in the wooden language of law and political sleight of hand.

That is why the incident where the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) descends like an eagle on bank accounts of the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) in the knowledge that about Tsh300m had been placed there for the second part of the Mainland premier league, and deduct Tsh157m for unpaid Pay As You Earn (PAYE) of two national soccer team coaches.

To cut a long story short, TRA knows that the coaches are paid by the government, but they act otherwise.

What TRA is doing in legal or technical terms is like creating a tax liability on the part of an agent, while no such liability can come up on the part of the source of the transaction, a method of doing things which brings about complaints all over the place, and court appearances.

The TRA rationale is that if an enterprise or service provider doesn’t want conflicts with the tax authorities he will just pay up, and if it matters so much to him that he can’t afford to pay and doesn’t want conflicts either, he may settle it ‘out of court’ with the relevant officials.

That is how TRA officials are paid by clients simply to get them to observe the law; for instance if TFF had paid someone, its accounts wouldn’t be assaulted that way.

While it is hard to argue that no injustice has been conducted on TFF, even if the bid to withdraw that sum from its accounts could be rectified, there would still be plenty of pain on account of shock and trouble in pursuit of those claims.

There is also the potential embarrassment of the second part of the premier league not starting on time, especially if no accord is reached between the competing lines of authority as to how the gap is covered up, if the government refuses to intervene on behalf of TFF – and the sponsor refuses to make up for the gap for a silly claim where the sponsor would pay government-imposed tax claims upon a government employee! Then the merry go round would happily commence!

All that TRA needs to do is to create a farcical legal problem as to who pays PAYE for the coaches, even if their salaries are paid directly to them from the Paymaster General, whom TRA cannot touch their bank accounts, nor can they sequestrate the coaches, as that would create chaos. So a fallback organization or agency is nabbed instead, and made to pay, either physically or by a stretch of bureaucratic troubles, for non-existent tax claims, as the coaches are part of its technical teams but not their employees per se; they just advice the government on their work, and thus facilitate observation of contractual terms, etc.

In that case there is a sort of deliberate imposition of liability which shall give TFF a headache when they need money urgently, in a case that looks remarkably similar to the daily injustice that premier league clubs face at the hands of TFF’s own proto-TRA methods.

Both the TRA and the National Sports Council (NSC) apart from TFF, regularly descend on gate collections when premier league clubs play, leaving the clubs with their dozens of players with less than half, or even close to a third, of total gate collections, which – except by TFF standards – is an unfair dealing.

So why shouldn’t TFF get a taste of their own medicine in turn, so that this incident helps to clarify the murky field of sport revenues, once and for all?

SOURCE: GUARDIAN ON SUNDAY