Ministry warns of $20 million revenue shortfall

The Ministry of Customs and Revenue fears the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) will leave the country with a $20 million tala hole in revenue collection.

Minister of Customs and Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, told Samoa Observer in an interview that the Ministry anticipates a $20 million revenue shortfall due to the global pandemic.

“In going forward there is a drop in collection and we anticipate the amount will climb to more than $20 million,” he said. “And the Ministry is reviewing how best we can help the business community at the moment.”

Last month, the Commissioner for Customs and Revenue, Matafeo Avalisa Viali-Fautua'ali'i told the Samoa Observer that they had actually collected a total $383,139,801 million and saw an increase of $22.9million.

The Minister said the $22.9 million surplus will help cover the first three months the Ministry runs on a shortfall. 

“But I am not sure as to what is the shortfall by June and there will be challenges with the collection from the Internal Revenue Service. The number will drop,” he added.

Commissioner Matafeo told the Samoa Observer in an earlier interview that of their total forecast revenues, 64.5 per cent (about $348.6 million) is expected to be collected by Customs with about 35.5 per cent (about $191.6 million) from the I.R.S. and non-tax revenues. 

“With actual collections so far, Customs has collected about $249.3 million and about $133.8 million by the I.R.S. Included in those collected revenues by both departments of MCR, is $29.1 million collected from outstanding tax arrears.” 

The Minister said the shortfall is expected and they are working with the Ministry of Finance to formulate a stimulus package to assist local businesses. 

This week C.E.O. of the Ministry of Finance, Leasiosiofa’asisina Oscar Malielegaoi, said stimulus package preparations to combat the COVID-19 economic downturn are currently underway and could be finalised soon. 

He told the Samoa Observer that the Government received a request for assistance from the Samoa Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. a couple of days ago.

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