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Knocking on evaders’ doors to retrieve $43.4 million

By Elenoa Baselala SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Jan. 27, 2010) - Collectors will knock on the doors of tax evaders as they try and reduce the FJ$84million [US$43.4 million] owed in tax arrears in Fiji.

This figure is reduction from the FJ$86m [US$44.5 million] recorded last year.

Fiji Islands Revenue and Customs Authority (FIRCA) chief executive Jitoko Tikolevu said his debt enforcement agency would be more aggressive this year.

Tax owed to FIRCA was about FJ$155.9m [US$80.7 million] in 2007 with about FJ$6m [US$3.1 million] written off. At that time, the government owed FJ$20.4m [US$10.6 million] and statutory bodies owed another FJ$6m [US$3.1 million].

Mr. Tikolevu said the current arrears were mostly owed in corporate and pay-as-you-earn taxes.

"We particularly go for PAYE as this is money that has already been deducted, this is trust money," Mr. Tikolevu said.

"That and Value Added Tax, which has been collected by the businessmen. We go hard on these people in terms of penalties."

Mr. Tikolevu said tax collections for the last two months of 2009 were buoyant, where they managed some FJ$20m [US$10.3 million].

This was achieved after experiencing low collections for the first nine months of the year.

"It's not that people refuse to pay, it is just some of them do need time to pay up," Mr. Tikolevu said.

"And they do come in and discuss with us.

It is just when they do not communicate at all with us that we go after them."

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