For the first half of the year, revenue collection stood at $740.53m. This was below the forecast by $11.3 million or 1.5% but was 2.4% ($17.7m) higher than that collected in the same period last year.
The Secretary General of the World Customs Organisation (WCO), Mr. Kunio Mikuriya and the Fiji Ambassador to Belgium, H.E. Ambassador Peceli Vocea, on behalf of the Fiji Revenue & Customs Authority (FCRA), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the establishment of a WCO Regional Training Centre in Suva on the final day of the 119/120th Session of the Customs Cooperation Council in Brussels on 30 June, 2012.
The establishment of the RTC in Fiji is in line with FRCA’s strategic vision and one of WCO’smajor initiatives to exploit regional synergies, liaise closely with regional and local stakeholders and deal with region specific issues, thereby enhancing the capacity of Customs administrations to better meet the demands of today’s global trading environment.
The Regional Training Centre was formally opened on August 20, with the first training session conducted immediately afterwards.
The E-Learning Program is now underway for Customs staff after being officially launched by the Oceania Customs Organisation (OCO) Secretariat and FRCA on 17 February 2012. In March 2012, the Board approved the implementation of the E-Learning Framework which includes certification for staff, after completion.
Those registered for e-learning will be able to access the program from their desktops and study at their own pace. One advantage of the program is that it allows staff to attempt a module for a maximum of 14 times to better their scores and develop them into experts.
FRCA is participating in the SEA Process again in 2012 in part of our efforts to improve our processes and services. Staffs have attended training for champions and evaluators. Awareness for staff was conducted in August.
A balance Scorecard system has been approved by the FRCA Board to measure staff performance. Awareness road show for staff was done in August.
The FRCA Office in Rakiraki was opened on 5 May, 2012 with one staff. A full team of four should be operating from Rakiraki before the end of the year. As for the Sigatoka Office, work is already underway for the new office, but officers have already been identified to be posted to the new office. The Sigatoka Office is also planned to be opened by the end of the year.
The Gold Card Unit was established in February 2012. The Gold Card concept is a special priority service provided to tax and duty compliant taxpayers who are in need of daily interaction with FRCA. Services provided by the unit, include attending to all general enquiries, processing tax clearance and tax exemption applications, receipt payments for all taxes and/or penalties, handle lodgements and processing of all return types and nominees including VAT Self-Assessment and process applications and returns for Film Fiji.
The service is provided free of charge and there are no forms to be completed. Currently, FRCA is starting with 36 taxpayers to ensure provision and sustainability in the long term. However, this number will increase.
As a proactive stand, a unit has been formed to handle all Transfer Pricing issues which may undermine national revenue. In addition, the Unit, with the assistance of a consultant has developed a Transfer Pricing Guideline intended to provide an overview of the framework within which the transfer pricing rules operates at a very practical level.
Consultations were held in June with stakeholders in the Northern, Western and Central Eastern Districts to assist taxpayers and advisors to better understand the guidelines and rules, regulations, processes and requirements now in place for organisations to follow when dealing in transfer pricing. A consultant is currently training staff of the new unit.
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