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Passed Bill Names And Shames Tax Evaders

Passed Bill Names And Shames Tax Evaders
Acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum outside Parliament on September 15, 2017. Photo: Vilimoni Vaganalau
September 16
10:33 2017

Companies whose annual turnover is more than $1.5million will be named and shamed if they are found to have made an attempt to evade taxes or fail to comply with Fiji’s tax laws.

A Bill to amend the Fiji Revenue and Customs Act was passed in Parliament yesterday to allow the naming and shaming of such companies.

It was passed despite National Federation Party leader Biman Prasad’s attempt to have the amendment delayed, to give people ‘affected’ by it time.

Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum moved the motion to amend the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service Bill and bring about the change that companies whose annual turnover is more than $1.5million should be named and shamed if they fail to pay their taxes.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum highlighted that one of the four top accounting firms in Fiji had been implicated in such cases as well and that this should not be condoned.

He said it is through this Bill, the Fijian Government introduces the “Name and Shame” legislative provisions to publicly identify and publish the names of persons or companies who intentionally avoid paying the right taxes due.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the idea is to expose these entities in public in order to shame them into compliance and in turn deter and discourage others from engaging in similar activities.

He said naming and shaming can of course destroy a company’s reputation and influence the decisions of customers, suppliers, financiers and other stakeholders doing business with the company.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said recently one of the banks in Fiji, did not want to do business with a company which was given a tax assessment and penalty in access of $50 million.

However, Mr Prasad said he may support the amendment if it comes in the February sitting.

He said the big businesses who will need to conform with this law should be given time to get their books in order.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum argued that Government had been working since 2007 to get such business houses to pay their correct taxes and two amnesties had also been given.

He said many of the businesses have been given amnesty but a number of them continued to break the law because there was a culture of ‘greed’.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said there was a culture of accounting firms doing whatever their clients wanted, without ethics.

He said Government agreed that most tax payers in Fiji were compliant, and this was why such a bill was to be passed.

Edited by Karalaini Waqanidrola

Feedback: losirene.lacanivalu@fijisun.com.fj

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