TONGA TO REMOVE TAX ON FISH EXPORTS

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The three percent tax would hurt Tonga industry

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Dec. 18, 2008) – The three per cent export tax imposed on unprocessed fish loaded in Fiji will be removed from processing companies and canneries handling local or foreign fishing fleets in Fiji.

This was confirmed by Fiji Fish Industries spokesperson Russell Dunham following his meeting Fiji Islands Revenue and Customs Authority (FIRCA) chief executive Jitoko Tikolevu and interim Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum yesterday.

The interim Government had in its 2009 Budget forecast announced that a 3 per cent export duty would be imposed on unprocessed fish offloaded in Fiji for export.

Following a Cabinet paper compiled by the industry and stakeholders to explain the situation, a decision was reached to have these processing companies be exempted from paying this tax.

"We are pleased with the Government for responding to our concerns fairly quickly and we are hoping that come January 2009, we will be able to export our fish without having to pay any export tax," Dunham told Fijilive.

"If the 3 per cent tax would have been allowed to stay, Fiji would not have been seen by these fishing fleets as a suitable loading port given that other Pacific Island countries liker Vanuatu were trying to get these fishing boats to offload their fish there," he said.

"But I must say that following our meetings with Government, they have indicated to us that it was never their intention to harm the fishing industry," Dunham said.

He said at present, there were some 140 foreign fishing boats and some 45 local fishing boats.

"We are now awaiting a written confirmation from Government so come January next year, our exports of unprocessed fish are not stopped because we have not paid our export tax," he added.

In the Budget forum following the announcement of the 2009 Budget forecast, concerned parties had expressed concerns of the detrimental effect the export tax would have once imposed.

Fijilive: http://www.fijilive.com

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