Ministry of Revenue & Customs. Photo/Kalino Lātū

The Tongan Government has not written off any debts owing to the Ministry of Revenue and Customs.

A government spokesman said yesterday the government had gone back on an earlier decision to write off the money because it had not followed the right procedure.

On July 12 this year cabinet agreed to a proposal from the Minister of Revenue and Customs to write off debts of unpaid tax and duties due to the Ministry for the period of 2004-2014. This amounted to more than TOP$11 million.

The Minister for Finance was not present at the meeting. He later advised cabinet that the proper legal process to write off debts had not been followed.

According to Section 41 of the Public Finance Management Act, proposals to write off debt  have to be submitted to the Secretary for Finance and the Minister for Finance for investigation.

Once that investigation is completed, it is only the Minister for Finance and no one else, who makes recommendations to cabinet whether or not to write off the debt.

In addition, when a submission to write off debts is received by the Ministry of Finance, it is usually referred to the Auditor General’s Office to verify why the debts cannot be collected by the reporting agencies.

The Auditor General then reports back to the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Finance reports to cabinet as to whether the debt is to be written off or not.

On July 17 cabinet decided to go back on its decision.

A government spokesman said no debts had been written off and the Ministry of Finance had not received any submission from the Ministry of Revenue and Customs.

The main points

  • The Tongan Government has  not written off any debts owing to the Ministry of Revenue and Customs.
  • A government spokesman said yesterday the government had gone back on an earlier decision to write off the money because it had not followed the right procedure.

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