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MY SAY: A-G tackling the Culture of Greed is Commendable

MY SAY: A-G tackling the Culture  of Greed is Commendable
Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum outside Parliament on September 15, 2017. Photo: Vilimoni Vaganalau
September 18
13:53 2017

The acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, talked about the culture of greed in Parliament this week.

I salute him for addressing this issue head on. He did not mince his words either.

He was speaking on the Bill to amend the Fiji Revenue and Customs Act that was passed by Parliament on Friday.

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

It’s necessary to bring in this amendment to the law because some big businesses had failed to pay their taxes or not complied with tax requirements.

Some accounting firms are culpable because they prepare the books for the businesses.

The Government has twice since 2007 given them two amnesties. But they have continued to break the law in a culture of greed.

These are multi-million businesses raking in a lot of money. They must not be allowed to get away with it because of the pervasive influence of such evil practices on people and the country as a whole.

Many ordinary people with modest income pay their taxes. It is not fair that while they pay their taxes, some of the big businesses deliberately avoid it.

That’s why this new law of naming and shaming tax dodgers should be applauded. When big businesses earning millions fail to pay tax, it is serious because Government needs that money to fund development projects.

Just to give us an idea, a company owed Fiji Revenue and Customs $53 million of what should be all ours to fund building and upgrading of public roads, bridges, jetties, water and electricity supply.

Tax revenue helps Government carry out its development projects.

Let’s hope that the amended law will eliminate the culture of greed and selfishness which appears to be deeply rooted in some places.

In the past this culture may have grown because of a loophole in the law. This has been addressed by this law change. This alleged practice to circumvent the law for financial gain is an example of dishonesty and lack of integrity.

It’s a case of people, who have a lot more than others, trying to have even more through dubious means. That’s pure greed and it’s not acceptable.

It is so true that money can be the root of all evils. 1 Timothy 6: 10 (King James Version of the New Testament of the Holy Bible) says: “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

In other words, when we allow ourselves to be controlled by money, it will negatively influence our mind. It should be the other way around. We should control money.

When this happens we will be honest in our financial dealings.

Money is not evil when we obtain it and use it in the proper way. It means we are compliant with the tax law.

It also helps us to live within our means by using correct budgeting principles.

Those who break the law at the expense of the greater public good deserve no sympathy. They manipulate the figures and the system to make more money.

That must stop.

The new law change will address that and bring the offenders to justice. The crackdown by the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service will strengthen the public confidence in our tax regime.

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