June 4 2022
The National Federation Party has demanded an immediate independent investigation into the operations of Fiji Revenue & Customs Authority over what the party says is the catastrophic failure of the FRCS information technology (IT) including VAT revenue collection system.
The call has come following revelations that FRCS is unable to correctly process and input zero-rated or 0% VAT following removal of VAT on some basic and essential food items from 1st April following the revised 2021-22 Budget.
NFP Leader Professor Biman Prasad told the Fiji Times it is clear from a public notice issued by recently appointed FRCS CEO Mark Dixon that nothing seems to be working at the revenue collection agency of the State.
A public notice issued by Mr Dixon on 13th May advises registered taxpayers that lodgement of April 2022 VAT returns has been extended until further notice and that late lodgement penalty isn’t being applied.
The notice goes on to say that taxpayers making VAT payments can do based on their own calculations and any shortfall in the amount payable to FRCS will also not attract any penalty.
Professor Prasad said this means that the FRCS system is dysfunctional and businesses will have to manually calculate their VAT collection and make payments at least for April and May.
“What this means is when the system is fixed and correct figures are calculated, there are certain to be shortfalls in payment. And this will heap financial burden on businesses, particularly small and medium traders who will be asked to pay the outstanding sum as soon as possible although FRCS says no penalty will be charged”.
“Will they be given time to do so because it is through no fault of theirs that this problem will confront them in the future?”
“This problem has arisen purely out of government’s sole objective of making up policies as it goes along instead of implementing sound and sensible solutions to benefit the people”.
“Government should have ensured FRCS rectified VAT revenue collection systems or at least had the capability of immediately adapting to swift changes well before the budgetary measures were announced”.
“The NFP had been repeatedly calling for the implementation of such measures well before prices of basic food and essential goods hit the roof”.
“But government, as usual, in its political agenda of one-upmanship and grandstanding, rubbished our calls, only to find out that the implementation of the measures is failing to provide any relief to the people and is resulting in chaos at FRCS”.
“This chaos is also the result of mass termination of experienced staff at FRCS on the pretext of right-sizing the organisation when clearly the reason was economic meltdown. It is now having a crippling effect on FRCS”.
“The FRCS Board and Management have to answer for this failure and only an independent inquiry into the operations of the organisations will ensure they are held accountable”.