16 Nov 2005

Fiji Customs turn away auditors, doubting secrecy

9:01 pm on 16 November 2005

The Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority has refused the auditor general access its tax records.

The Authority's chief executive, Tevita Banuve, has told the Fiji Times this is because the auditor general, Eroni Vatuleka, has refused to swear an oath of secrecy that is required under the Income Tax Act and the Value Added Tax Decree.

Mr Vatuleka says his work has been hampered by refusal of the authority to allow his staff to access records.

Mr Vatuleka says his office has been called on to look into defaulting taxpayers who owe the authority 78 million US dollars in tax arrears.

Mr Banuve says the auditor general is most welcome to access revenue records once he has sworn an oath of secrecy.

But Mr Banuve says individual taxpayers information could not be accessed by anyone.

Nearly 16 million US dollars of arrears are owed by government ministries and departments which have not paid the Value Added Tax they have collected.