Partnership to Quantify Economic Benefits
In an effort to collaborate and strengthen partnerships for efficient administration of Government’s revenue policies to support economic growth and improving tax compliance in the forestry sector, today the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service (FRCS) and the Ministry of Forestry (MoF) have signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA).
The Agreement formalizes a partnership between the two agencies to collaboratively work together to quantify economic benefits for both parties as well as ensuring tax and customs compliance within the industry.
Speaking at the signing this morning, Permanent Secretary for Forestry – Pene Baleinabuli said that the Agreement is a timely one as illegal activities within the Forestry sector is rife and needs to be curbed immediately.
“Activities like illegal logging is a major global problem that not only leaves an obvious mark of destruction on forests and ecosystems but it strips the economic livelihood of local communities, and responsible companies, depriving the nation of much needed revenue,” he said.
According to PS Baleinabuli, “this Agreement will allow the Ministry and FRCS to put up safeguards on two fronts – at the border and at its source. If we cut off their supply, illegal operators will have no choice but to close down.”
The MoA, amongst other issues, will facilitate information exchange between the two agencies that will be useful in the approval and monitoring of various forestry sector concessions, Customs clearance matters relating to timber imports and exports and more importantly, in the overall tax compliance activities relating to operators in the forestry sector.
Both the Ministry of Forestry and the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service are also making renewed efforts to help the private sector to grow the economy.
“This is particularly important in a post-COVID19 era. We need to work with the private sector because it is the engine for economic growth. It creates employment and pays taxes.”
Agencies like the Ministry of Forestry is repositioning itself to support and facilitate the needful so that the private sector could do what it does best- and that is to contribute to livelihoods and grow the economy.”
FRCS Acting Chief Executive Officer, Ms Fane Vave stated that whilst there has been an overall improvement in tax compliance in Fiji, there is no doubt that the black economy such as the exchange of cash in the primary sector is not properly accounted and declared to FRCS.
“The MoA will greatly assist FRCS to be fully aware of all the operators who are connected with the forestry sector which will then lead to a development of targeted tax compliance strategies”, Ms Vave said.
This is the first of many partnership Agreements that the Ministry will be formalizing with other Government agencies, statutory bodies, industry stakeholders and the private sector.
The MoA is merely a critical component of Government’s facilitation process to ensure we are capturing the correct information on revenue flows in the forestry sector.
Our other very important components include the quick turnaround time and quality facilitation for the sector in accordance with the existing regulations.
It also includes the provision of scientific and technical information based on applied research that will ensure operations in the sector have minimal impact on the environment and that in the longer term, Fiji is able to sustainably manage Fiji’s forest resources.
The Agreement between the Ministry of Forestry (MoF) and the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service (FRCS) also extends to information sharing with regards to the import and export of timbers products and machinery.