Director DCIR Benjamin Malas (l) and the Public Prosecutor Josaia Naigulevu (r)

Director DCIR Benjamin Malas, (l) and Public Prosecutor, Josaia Naigulevu (r)

By Godwin Ligo

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed Wednesday between the Director of Customs and Inland Revenue Department and the Public Prosecutor, means business owners, provincial governments and municipalities or anyone not complying with paying taxes cannot escape being brought before court.

In his remarks after the signing of the MOU, Director of Customs and Inland Revenue, Benjamin Malas said: “In the end, we (DCIR) in this process of MOU actually complete the compliance enforcement cycle which must have effective prosecutions.

“Our non-compliance taxpayers are disciplined and forced in this process to help them comply with the rules of the law,” he stressed.

“The government will also gain more revenue when everyone complies with the laws administered by the DCIR and other government agencies and the Prosecution will be able to do their job to prosecute offenders of laws approved by the National Parliament,” Mr Malas said.

He went on to state that: “In the past it has not been that coordinated and with no real cooperation which often leads to poor results in getting those not complying to be prosecuted and pay up their unpaid taxes, but with the MOU between the Customs and Inland Revenue Department, this sends a signal to businesses and anyone not complying in paying government taxes to start complying.

“Because, with the MOU now signed, it will ensure better coordination between the two parties and the DCIR teams and investigations to effectively vary out their work as clearly laid out in the MOU,” the DCIR Director explains.

In response, the Public Prosecutor, Josia Ngaigulevu, said: “The Office of the Public Prosecutor (OPP) commits to the MOU signed with DCIR today (Wednesday) in the interest of enforcing the revenue and Customs Laws of Vanuatu.

“In so doing, the Office of Public Prosecutor recognizes the need that some government agencies have and that have been communicated to it in the recent past.

“There are several whose laws may have been actively enforced in the past, that the Office of Public Prosecutor will be assisting in the near future.”

Whilst the principle goal is to enforce the domestic laws of the country and the administration of justice, the OPP understands that in some cases this kind of partnership also contribute to achieving other equally important goals, like helping government in its efforts to collect outstanding revenue.

The Public Prosecutor says his office is aware of how these extended roles may impact on its current resources.

Several competing factors need to be considered when resources become an issue, the Public Prosecutor pointed out, after the signing of the MOU, this week.

While the exact figure is not revealed by the Customs and Inland Revenue Department of outstanding revenue, the Daily Post understands that the outstanding revenue going back to 1990 which around 27 years, stands at an estimated figure of Vt4 billion of which Vt1 billion is core tax unpaid to the Vanuatu Government.

The MOU became effective this month on the day of its signing.

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