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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, June 19) - A total of FJ$122.3 million [US$70 million] in taxes remained uncollected last year, according to a Fiji Islands Revenue and Customs Authority report tabled in Parliament.

The FIRCA report said the figure was 5.2 percent lower than the uncollected tax figure in 2004.

FIRCA chief executive Tevita Banuve said with its strong emphasis on compliance, the authority recovered FJ$44.3 million [US$25.4 million] in outstanding taxes - 6 per cent higher than outstanding taxes collected in 2004.

"Over the years, tax legislations were amended to incorporate new compliance measures, which were now assisting the authority in minimizing arrears," Banuve said in the report.

"During the year, the authority was committed to accelerate processing of VAT refunds. The total outstanding VAT refunds in 2005 were almost FJ$12.8 million, which was 44 percent lower than recorded in 2004."

He said the authority refunded a total of FJ$152.9 million [US$88 million] or FJ$28.2 million [US$16.2 million] more than was proposed.

However, Banuve said with the increasing need for security, the authority was also given the responsibility to provide a report on the best means of facilitating and implementing measures for supply chain.

He said at the end of the year the authority collected a record amount of FJ$1.064 billion, which was 3 per cent higher than 2004 collections.

Banuve said the strong growth in Income Tax, which grew by 9.6 percent, and indirect taxes in the form of VAT largely drove the revenue growth and customs were also buoyant with positive growth rates

According to auditor-general Eroni Vatuloka's report, the authority overstated its surplus by FJ$774,668 because it had claimed refunds on VAT during the year.

Meanwhile, $FJ14 million [US$8 million] in taxes was foregone last year because of concessions granted to various tax-free schemes.

The comment was made in the Fiji Islands Revenue and Customs Authority 2005 report tabled in Parliament last week.

It said FIRCA had to forgo FJ$14,639,146 [US$8,426,292] because of tax concessions.

The tax concession were for cash donations to approved charitable organizations, the cyclone reserve fund, donations to the Fiji Police Force, the South Pacific Games, employee share schemes, employment taxation schemes, export incentives, export profit, film tax rebates, fuel concessions and audio visual incentives.

June 20, 2006

Fiji Times Online: .

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