The employees of the Ministry for Revenue were told to work smarter rather than harder during the launch of the Compliance Improvement Plan 2016 – 2018 on Friday.
The launch was held at the Development Bank of Samoa building conference room and witnessed by representatives from the different government ministries and those from the private sector.
Chief Executive Officer for Revenue, Avalisa Viali Fautua’alii said the Ministry has limited resources and staff and the C.I.P. document is crucial to assist them in their work.
The document sets out major strategic risks that Revenue will put its priority focus on over the next two years.
“The Ministry doesn’t have the luxury of required resources such as more personnel, more funds, sophisticated equipment and systems to manage those compliance risks,” said Mrs. Fautua’alii.
“We don’t have enough staff to audit every customer, to examine every container, to collect all outstanding returns and arrears, to prosecute all the non-compliant customers. We don’t have the money to even buy a container X-ray or even a scanner at the airport.
Therefore it’s absolutely a must for us to work smarter not harder with the very limited resources we have in our reach.”
The C.E.O. said it’s crucial for the Ministry and its partners to work together and communicate more frequently.
“We also need to understand you and your situation; why you don’t comply, why you didn’t pay on time, why you didn’t register when you should so that we understand you and you understand us and most importantly we understand where we each stand in our relationship.”
She emphasised the importance of the support of customers and how the collected revenue goes to fund public works for the benefit of the country.
A revenue advisor and specialist from the Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Center, Stan Shrosbree applauded the milestone Revenue has reached.
He pointed out government nowadays has realised how important revenue administration is in generating money and budget.
Mr. Shrosbree said becoming more efficient is the key to revenue administration to create an environment where taxpayers and people can see the benefit of taxation and why they pay tax.
However there is always another side to the story.
According to the specialist, revenue administration needs to be professional to have staff who are confident and approachable.
“Having these staff will mean the taxpayer can feel they are people they can talk to,” he said.
“It will reduce compliance for taxpayers and make things easier for them and a priority to make tax friendlier where people can submit their returns on file.
As the C.E.O. mentioned, taxpayer education is very important and is equally important to have an organisation that can provide good taxpayer education so people know what their responsibilities are and what they have to do.”
Mr. Shrosbree said he also understands that there will always be problems.
He pointed out there will always be those taxpayers who do comply with their tax obligations and those who don’t.
“Tax fraud and tax evasion are fundamentally unfair,” he said.
“That is where the MFR compliance strategy comes in. A compliance strategy that focuses on risk and most importantly what the C.E.O. pointed out.
“That the CIP is not a secret document. It’s for everyone to look at.”
He added the document is a step in the right direction and will help the office in meeting the tax and customs requirements.