ASEAN: Laos moves to rejust import taxes

Vientiane – The Lao government is moving to abolish reference prices used to calculate import tax aiming to integrate with the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015, according to state-run daily Vientiane Times, Tuesday.

The move is also one of the country’s main obligations to the World Trade Organization (WTO) since it joined in February, 2013.

According to Vientiane Times, the Lao Ministry of Finance is currently in the process of drafting regulations to readjust import duties and taxes.

Last week, financial officials met with vehicle importers and representatives of the sales industry to discuss the issue. The failure to pay or tendency to underpay vehicle import duties has been a significant factor in the ministry’s inability to meet annual revenue collection targets.

The meeting between importers, sales representatives and financial officials was chaired by Lao deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad and sought to find arrangements which would be beneficial to all three sides.

The government has moved to assure importers that a calculated tax collection system would not have a significant impact on entrepreneurs or potential buyers; however the system would require sincerity, honesty and transparency from all parties.

During the meeting Somsavat called on all parties to be more sincere in their business dealings and to responsibly contribute to the country’s socio-economic development.

According to Vientiane Times, some businesses are avoiding tax payments while in other cases government staff are joining with businesses to illegally import vehicles. These actions are having a negative impact on the country’s bottom line.

Some local government staff and businessmen have a lack of knowledge and understanding regarding the law and its implementation, said Minister of Finance Lien Thikeo at the meeting.

In nine months of this financial year the Ministry of Finance has collected revenue equal to 61 percent of the annual plan. With new tightened measures the ministry hopes that revenue collection this year will reach 93.65 percent of the annual plan.

The government and ministry believe that a raft of new technological systems will help to keep better records of financial transactions and improve accountability.

It is hoped that the adoption of modern management mechanisms and greater coordination between the ministry and relevant public and private sectors will also allow for more transparent business dealings.

“We should improve the program systems to integrate with every sector, the tax and customs departments, the industry and commerce sector and also public works and transport,” Lien suggested. Source: Xinhua