MAKILI: TAX THE MINERS
Ian M. Kaukui | Solomon Star | 25 September 2019
PRIME Minister Manasseh Sogavare has been urged to revoke the 100% tax exemption duty granted to the bauxite miners on Rennell island, Renbel Province.
The bauxite mine is owned by Chinese logger APID Ltd, which had contracted Hong Kong-based company Bintan Mining, to carry out the operation.
Local activist Lawrence Makili said if the Government is looking for money to fill its coffers, Prime Minister Sogavare must remove the duty exemption the miner has been granted.
“There are lots of areas we can earn our own money as a country if we are led by responsible leaders,” Makili stated.
“These include using our own resources to stimulate economic developments and one of them is the imposing the right tax on foreign businesses operating here,” he added.
“Yet, we see a foreign investor coming in and get our resources freely out of the country.”
Makili said the resources belong to the country and it should be utilised for its economic benefits.
He said despite the call being made previously, the Government continues to allow the miner to enjoy the exemption, much to the loss of this country.
In his speech at the recent Australia-Solomon Islands Business Forum, Sogavare said the government through the Ministry of Finance and Treasury is now working on a tax policy review.
“The Government is opened to inputs and dialogue in this area and will bring to Parliament the Tax Administration Bill, Customs and Exercise Bill and Value Added Tax Bill,” he said.
He said this is not going to happen in this year’s meeting but in 2020 Parliament meeting.
Sogavare said he is also conscious of how tax regime is affecting the private sector especially after Solomon Islands Tobacco Company (SITCO) and Solomon Breweries Ltd (Solbrew) paid him a courtesy visit.
“We had a very informative and fruitful discussion and it was really interesting to hear their views with regards to excise taxes, and how they can assist in working together with the Government to ensure a win-win situation for all.
“After this discussion, I realised that our tax regime in this instance has resulted in the government losing out millions of dollars. I have since instructed my staff to work closely with other relevant ministries to address look at other options,” he added.