In preparation for the relocation to the new office in Nasese, the activities centered around finalizing the office lay-out plan, tendering for the various office fit-out works, including building, electrical and cabling, loose furniture & workstations, fire suppression system, and audio visual, to name a few. These works were quite daunting and challenging as the new premises was to be prepared to accommodate close to five (500) hundred officers of the Authority that are based in Suva. By end of June most of the crucial works for the office fit-outs were completed.
The actual relocation of Suva offices commenced gradually in July before the official opening. On 5 August 2009, the Prime Minister and Minister for Finance officially opened the new Revenue & Customs Services Complex. These new premises will support the new organization structure currently being designed and will help FIRCA provide better services to the people and the government.
One of the Key Result Areas of the 2009-2010 Corporate Plan is Institutional Modernization, and this envisaged that there would be changes to the organization’s business processes, information systems and technology, and legislation to name a few. It is also to be noted that there may changes to the organization structure. Furthermore, the plan stated that recommendations contained in the reports compiled by the World Customs Organization (WCO) sponsored Diagnostics Mission for Customs, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Study Mission would be considered and relevant recommendations implemented.
The primary focus of the Reforms Project is to analyze FIRCA’s existing business processes, and systems with a view to recommending how processes can be re-engineered to improve efficiency, and to enable FIRCA deal with the challenges of globalization, trade liberalization, changing business environment, and increased of technology in the commercial world. The Reforms Project involves process analysis and consultations with stakeholders.
The Reforms Team has just completed their first round of awareness workshops with Tax and Customs staff in Suva, Lautoka, Nadi, Labasa and Savusavu. The overall objective of the workshops was to educate staff on the purpose of the reforms. To that end, the workshops were interactive allowing staff to comment and make suggestions on related issues. Overall, the response from staff has been quite encouraging.
A total of 27 workshops were conducted with just over half the expected number of staff from the Tax and Customs Division attending. Levuka and Corporate workshops will be held at a later date.
As part of Government’s ongoing program to improve investment climate in Fiji, Cabinet at its meeting on 9 June, 2009, approved that all Government and statutory authorities have hard copies of their investment approval checklist at the counter of their respective agencies available to the public by 15 June, 2009. Staffs of all Customer Services Centers were instructed to abide by this Cabinet Decision.
In a move to increase its intelligence capacity, the Customs arm of FIRCA launched its Intelligence Database on Tuesday 19 May, 2009 at the Customs House in Rodwell Road, Suva. The database would enable FIRCA to conduct real time analysis and necessary risk treatments on yachts and seizures made. The World Customs Organization (WCO) had developed a New Strategic Direction for Customs administrations to adhere to and that the intelligence database was part of FIRCA’s ongoing response to the Direction. The database was specifically designed to comply with and support the business purpose of FIRCA. It has the capability of storing seizure reports, SPA’s and movement of yachts, which would allow the Customs Intelligence Unit (CIU) to efficiently manage information and intelligence for increased effectiveness of border control. The database also has the flexibility to interphase with other systems.
Significant progress has been made in finalizing the Tax Administration Decree (TAD) with the external stakeholders. Three rounds of intense discussions between the Fiji Institute of Accountants (FIA) and FIRCA have taken place. It has been agreed that a number of FIA submissions be incorporated in the draft TAD.
An intensive FIRCA-wide roadshow program was carried out to raise awareness among all staff on the following:
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