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Online Buying Under Close Scrutiny

Online Buying Under Close Scrutiny
International speaker Michael McQueen makes a presentation at the World Cutsoms Organisation Asia/Pacific Private Sector Engagement Conference at the Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa on Denarau yesterday. Photo: Waisea Nasokia
May 15
10:00 2018


Online buying is under close scrutiny by Fiji Revenue and Customs Service.

This was highlighted by the FRCS chief executive officer Visvanath Das yesterday at the Private Sector Engagement Conference at the Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa, yesterday.

Mr Das said there was a need to look at online buying of goods through e-commerce in Fiji because taxes were getting through the system unpaid.

Speaking to the media, Mr Das said online buying, from places like e-Bay, Amazon or Alibaba were gaining momentum and a close tab was being kept on those who may be buying the same goods more regularly.

“It is getting big here. If you compare Fiji with bigger countries and there is a growing trend on this type of buying,” he added.

At present, most goods that are bought online are usually priced below the $400 threshold are regarded as personal imports where duty does not apply.

“E-commerce is a global challenge and affecting some bigger countries.”

He said it was easy to issue the proper duty rates to goods coming in containers through the ports.

“When it comes to online and e-commerce, it’s not bulk buying so this needs to be monitored.

“For example, if you are buying a suit, you cannot be buying the same suit every week and if this happens then it raises the red flag.

“Those are the challenges that are there and needed to be looked at and addressed and if we are to impose some taxation, how do we collect it?

“We know it is happening but we need to have things in place as we do not want to rush into things we are not prepared for.

“We have a research team looking into this and we need to keep a close tab on this.

“It is good we have some guidance from the World Customs Organisation who had a working group looking into e-commerce.”

Meanwhile, Mr Das said a major challenge was whether there was a level of trust during dialogue with the private sector with the aim of moving business in a voluntary compliance manner.

“If you don’t understand the need of the customer, then you will not understand why customers behave on a certain way.

“We are looking forward to increasing our engagement with the private sector through programmes like we have with customs brokers.

“Businesses usually want to move goods across borders at a reduced cost whereas the border agencies are responsible for the security, revenue and other aspects.

“It seems we have competing priorities in that, while the border agencies are focused on security while the private sector is more on to business.

“We need to create a free flow of goods, people and services across borders and in order to do that we need to manage risks and understand better what is the need of the private sector and how the Government agencies, through mandate need to execute this.”




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