Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fiji Tax Agency Owe $Millions in Refund to Businesses

by Sai Lealea

FIRCA CEO Tikolevu
Read below the excuses by the Fiji Tax agency, FIRCA, for holding back on millions of dollars in tax refund for businesses. One wonders with all the so called reforms and changes carried out by the illegal regime the situation and service by agencies appear to be worsening.

On both sides it could said there are real concerns and contributing factors for this sad situation. FIRCA staff with all the pressures and changes to their conditions of work forced on them by the illegal regime, it has to have an impact on their morale and productivity. This can only get worse with the introduction of the repressive Essential Industry Decree which includes FIRCA. One can only expect the list of businesses waiting on their refund to get much longer before it ever gets any better. What then would be the FIRCA CEO's excuses? 

Picture the impact of FIRCA's performance on investors wanting to invest in Fiji with that level of shockingly bad service! In any other other public service, the FIRCA CEO would be either sacked or his contract reviewed and closely monitored with perhaps conditions placed on reducing the waiting list or time for the refunds. That would ensure his remuneration directly relates to his performance as leader of FIRCA. But we are in Fiji where the public service is now overseen by regime lackeys at the PSC who readily turn a blind eye at situations where it gives them a bad press.

The FIRCA CEO has conveniently pointed to fraudulent claims as holding up the refund. It is doubtful if this is the sole reason as it is impossible these days to verify such a claim in the absence of a parliamentary committee or similar oversight body. 

Illegality begets illegality is perhaps more applicable in describing the behaviour of tax payers who may want to put one past FIRCA with their claims. In an environment where the regime is illegitimate, derives and enforces its authority through illegal means, it is no wonder citizens and businesses would get to adopt similar inclinations in conducting their affairs, especially in transactions with the State. Even worse when citizens and tax payers get to learn of the fraud and corruption involving key regime figures beginning with the illegal PM and his illegal AG as reported in this blog and others.

What is blatantly clear is the hypocrisy of the illegal regime when it comes to one of their own. Rules of fair play and professionalism do not apply when it involves them as the guilty party. 

Richard Naidu
I would urge Richard Naidu to go ahead with a court challenge on this point and test both the Essential Industry Decree and of course the partiality of the regime appointed judges now populating the Fiji benches. Even if Richard wins the argument, we all know how badly the illegal regime needs the Money, even that owed to businesses as VAT, never mind the interest.


One National News 

The Fiji Islands Revenue and Customs Authority owes the business community around 30 million dollars in VAT refunds.

Questions have been raised on why FIRCA is holding back this payment.

Accused of double standards, at the recent Fiji Australia Business Council meeting, FIRCA is now being asked to explain why it continues to hold back on VAT refunds.

Suva lawyer Richard Naidu who is on the verge of filing a legal challenge against FIRCA on behalf of a client who is owed at least a million dollars says, patience is running out.

He described VAT refund delays as outrageous.

FIRCA CEO Jitoko Tikolevu admits they owe various businesses and individual VAT refunds totaling around $30 million.

FIRCA says one of the reasons behind delays is ongoing complex audits of some of these refunds.

They also admit the refund backlog hasn't always been this high.

Because of past cases of bogus VAT refunds, FIRCA has assured they will be paid immediately after stringent checks and verification have been completed. 

Fiji Times News 

THE high number of fraudulent claims will delay VAT returns of about $138 million.

And tax officers have vowed to prosecute business owners who try to change tax returns to make quick money.

Fiji Islands Revenue and Customs Authority chief executive Jitoko Tikolevu said a special team was set up last year to scrutinise VAT refund applications by businesses.

"Although I don't have any statistics with me, I can confirm this team has found cases relating to these cases," said Mr Tikolevu.

He said FIRCA had taken some of the cases to court.

'The normal procedure in this case is that we report the issue to court and the business or proprietor involved in these fraudulent claims is prosecuted," he said.

Mr Tikolevu predicted a slight delay in payment of VAT refunds. Hecould not say how long the delay would take.

Mr Tikolevu said $44,774,754 had been set aside to pay Income Taxreturns.

A further $138,519,183 was set aside to pay VAT returns.

"However, there may be some degree of delay in issuing VAT refunds merely because we have noted that there have been a lot of fraudulent claims in the past which needs time and effort to verify theaccuracy of these returns," said Mr Tikolevu. He said the authoritywas ready to accept and assess returns from last week.

"But the Income Tax returns for the year ended December 31, 2007 should be submitted or lodged to the authority by no later than March31, 2008," he said.

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