The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Organisation is considering changing its governance structure to a treaty organisation because of tax, Business Day newspaper reported on Tuesday.
The organisation, comprising the countries that are financing the world’s biggest radio telescope, is currently a corporation.
The newspaper reported the move would demand firmer financial commitments from member countries and give the project diplomatic privileges.
“It’s essential because funders say they are not prepared to pay VAT,” SKA South Africa director Bernie Fanaroff told the newspaper.
Such privileges would “open borders” for people and equipment, and enable the organisation to write its own tender rules for procuring goods and services, he said.
The science & technology department’s representative at the European Union, Daan du Toit, said a reason for SKA funding countries to support the move to a treaty organisation was that diplomatic privileges would remove tax on SKA officials and equipment.
“The rationale is that countries funding the SKA don’t necessarily want to contribute to another country’s tax regime,” Du Toit reportedly said. — Sapa