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NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Tonga Now, Mar 17) – Tonga’s Minister of Finance, Hon Siosiua T.T. ‘Utoikamanu, has announced a series of reviews as part of the Government’s private sector development programme. These reviews are expected to contribute to improving the regulatory environment for private sector businesses.

The first of the reviews will focus on bonded warehouses and is part of the Government’s anti-corruption programme. The aim here is to identify areas of improvement to the administration and operation of the existing scheme. The review will also investigate accusations of corruption and provide recommendations on the best way forward.

The second review is to assess Stamp Duties and whether there are valid reasons for continuing with this tax and if so to recommend how it could be improved. Stamp Duty brings in a relatively small amount of revenue and imposes considerable compliance cost on the business community so the review is timely. Funding for this review is being provided by the World Bank.

The third review is based on a recommendation by the Task Force for the Implementation of Regulatory Reform to review the administration of Consumption Tax to evaluate whether we can achieve higher levels of administrative effectiveness, compliance and revenue receipts. The review will also provide a stocktake of where we are at after nearly two years of Consumption Tax and provide an opportunity for business people to communicate their ideas of how the administration of consumption tax could be improved. The review will be undertaken by a tax expert from the Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Centre (PFTAC).

"These reviews are seen as contributing to improving the overall regulatory environment in Tonga as well as achieving the SDP8 national objectives. A timeframe for the reviews is being finalised with the work being undertaken by independent international experts" concluded the Minister.

Tonga Now is the website of the Reform Information Office, a unit within the Office of the Minister of Finance. The unit was established to assist the Minister of Finance in disseminating information to the public.

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