August 8, 2020

TCI: Government lost $55m in revenue in one year

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Beaches-Turks-and-Caicos-BeachFrom Turks and Caicos Weekly News

FROM April 1, 2007, to March 2008, the Turks and Caicos Islands Government, headed at the time by , lost $55 million in revenue due to duty that was foregone in several areas.

In court last week, former customs collector testified about a number of discrepancies in the system, revealing that the Government collected just under $10 million in import duties in that one year.

The highest loss was recorded as result of legislative exemptions, which related to exemptions given under development orders. This sum was $18 million.

The second highest recorded loss was in goods imported where the importers only paid five percent, this figure was $14.5 million.

Within government bodies, where goods valued at $27 million were imported, the revenue foregone was seven million.

These items included goods for government and statutory bodies such as furniture, specialised equipment, regular equipment, and supplies.

For goods that attracted only 10 percent duty, $8.1 million worth of duty was foregone. These goods were valued at $41 million.

In that same period, $1.171 million was also granted in ministerial exemptions.

Selver testified that between 2003 and 2009 the ministerial exemption for import duties for various developments was used quite a lot, more than it was before 2003 or after 2009.

Selver said he had no discretion when it comes to the waiving concessions

Asked how he learned about the ministerial concessions, Selver said it was usually contained in a letter from the finance.

He said that there were a fair amount of concessions given.

Asked to approximate how often these concessions were arriving/being granted, he said at least weekly.

The categories they were being granted for included developments that were being undertaken, new construction or outfitting of a business, and a number of other things.

He explained that these ministerial waivers were not the same as development orders, and that they were sometimes granted to facilitate the early stages of a development.

Selver said these granted concessions were never published in the Gazette as the ordinance dictates they should; and that as far as he knew they never were before he became the customs boss.

However, he did say that there came a time when publication did start again, but only for a short period.

Asked if he ever raised concerns about the amount of concessions that were being granted by ministers, Selver said yes, he raised it with the finance ministry.

The witness said he had a responsibility for revenue protection – which included managing concessions.

He added that in his view he was seeking the ministry’s cooperation to help him better manage the concessions that were being given.

He explained that it is the customs department’s responsibility to manage the concessions being granted by the ministry of finance in a better way, and had as such outlined several recommendations in a document to the ministry.

While there is no required date limit for items imported into the country on concession, Selver stated that from a revenue protection standpoint there should have been a date limit, value limit and other things in order to better manage the concessions.

He testified that for most of the concessions he did not get a date limit on them, and asked if he ever spoke to the subject minister at time, defendant , Selver stated that he wrote to the ministry with recommendations he would like to see enacted.

These recommendations were proposals to standardise concessions.

Selver said the categories he outlined included clear description of the items that were included in concessions, a time limit, value limit and ways in which to advice the importer about restrictions on the use of the goods and to advice importers that the customs department will be following up.

The prosecutor then asked the witness if these ministerial waivers resulted in revenue being reduced to the country, the witness answered: “Yes, of course.”

For more on this story go to: http://tcweeklynews.com/government-lost-m-in-revenue-in-one-year-p7142-127.htm

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