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Government recovers $19 million in unpaid taxes from foreign company

Government recovers $19 million in unpaid taxes from foreign company

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$19 million in unpaid taxes has been recovered from a foreign company which is operating here in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

At a press conference last week, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr Ralph Gonsalves revealed that a forensic audit {{more}}had been carried out on large taxpayers to uncover large arrears owed to the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

While making reference to a recent report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Prime Minister pointed out that the IMF said the rising domestic arrears and increasing challenges from a tightening of domestic conditions are increasing the difficulties of managing cash flows.

As Minister of Finance, Gonsalves noted that he has addressed that issue in the past and he declared that the country is not yet “out of the woods”.

“Things are still quite challenging, but I also make the point which they (the IMF) make: that the tax arrears exceed the Government arrears to suppliers. The amount of money which we owe is far less than what the taxpayers [owe], particularly big taxpayers,” the Prime Minister said.

“Right at the moment, we have done and we are doing forensic audits of a few big taxpayers from companies which are not Vincentian companies, companies from outside. We just a few days ago settled a big one. In this case, they had to settle with us a back tax bill for $19 million. We’re not talking about small monies, you know. But that has arisen because we did a careful audit.”

While he declined to reveal the name of the foreign auditors, Gonsalves congratulated them for their work, along with the employees of the Inland Revenue Department.

“I don’t talk about tax matters as you know. I set up a framework for things to be done, but naturally, if there is a big taxpayer with such big arrears and I see the money comes in to the consolidated fund, I will know what has happened.

“There are others and we are seeking, within the framework of the law, to collect on behalf of the people, the arrears which are owed by the big taxpayers because it is better we spend a lot of effort – while everybody has to pay his or her taxes – it yields greater benefits to the consolidated fund if you focus your attention on the big taxpayers and we have a large taxpayers unit at Inland Revenue and we are working to make sure we collect money which is owed to the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines,” Gonsalves said.(BK)

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