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FRCA Under Probe

Following a complaint lodged by the Attorney-General and Minister for Finance, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, last Friday the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority (FRCA) is being investigated by the Fiji Independent Commission
05 Oct 2015 13:18
FRCA Under Probe

Following a complaint lodged by the Attorney-General and Minister for Finance, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, last Friday the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority (FRCA) is being investigated by the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC).

FICAC has seized various documentation and computers last Friday evening and are carrying out further investigations.

The A-G’s complaint followed an email that was sent out by the general manager of the Customs division in FRCA.

The email read: “Effective from today no customs staff is to allow any ESU (Ethical Standards Unit) staff into the Customs area or disclose any information to them without consent from Customs executive. Any staff in breach of this instruction will be dealt with accordingly.”

The A-G asked: “Now why is there a need to cover up? Why is there a need to stop the Ethical Standard Unit within the organisation that is supposed to carry out any investigations against breaches?

“Why is there a particular general manager sending out an email stopping people from giving out information to or co-operating with the ESU? This is not acceptable behaviour by any standards of a general manager

“I note that after this email was sent out on September 30, just a couple of days ago before I lodged the complaint with FICAC, they had agreed through the management to perhaps allow the ESU team.

“Nonetheless, it was stopped in the first place, nonetheless a lot of time has passed and nonetheless from what we have got from reports even though at one level they have been allowed there are still a lot of pressure put on the ordinary staff not to speak to the ESU unit and that is of great concern to us.”

Previously, Government has been made aware of several allegations regarding VAT under claiming or under declaration.

“We have a lot of anecdotal stories regarding how certain importers are in cohorts with Customs officers. They change tariff codes so the importers pay less duties,” he said.

“On top of it they under value the goods so less VAT is paid. As a result the revenue we are getting from those collections in the tariffs plus the VAT collections is significantly diminished.

“That is like taking money straight out of every Fijians’ pocket because if we collect the right amount of money and people pay the right amount of money, government has then more ability to carry out more services to the people of Fiji for the people,” he said.

The A-G yesterday appealed to the business sector to refrain from stealing from the Fijian people and to ensure that their means of making profits were done legally.

“We want people to make profits, but do it legally,” the A-G said.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum also appealed to businesshouses to avoid giving bribes to custom officials. He also urged custom officials not to take bribes.

“To those people within Customs Department, the general manager and everybody else in the management team, if you’re hiding anything, do not do that. You are in fact breaching a very critical KPI of yours which is making sure that you strictly adhere to non- corrupt practices, making sure that you ensure that there is no corruption,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“And if there are any allegations, you must assist whether it’s your Ethical Standard Unit, whether it’s your Audit team, whether it is FICAC, whether it is the Police,” he said.

Feedback:  aqela.susu@fijisun.com.fj

 

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