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While Finance Minister Larry Howai agrees that Government needs to tighten enforcement on tax cheats, he is not in support of the T&T Revenue Authority Management Company which was being introduced by the last PNM administration when it lost the 2010 general election.
“It is clear that we need to strengthen enforcement. In the same way that we have brought new people into Customs to strengthen enforcement there we are moving to bring a number of people into the Board of Inland Revenue to strengthen the enforcement area,” he told the T&T Guardian.
“There are pros and cons to every initiative. I think the Revenue Authority has things in favour of it, but there are also issues which worked against it which is why there was such significant protest against it, if you recall, around the time when it was first introduced.”
Howai was responding to a call from former government minister Christine Sahadeo to operationalize the Revenue Authority. Under that statutory agency, the operations of the BIR and Customs and Excise Division were to be merged. She is of the view the agency would have been able to stop the leakage in the current revenue collection system. But Howai did not agree.
“I think we have started to make some significant inroads there and I’m starting to see results that are very positive as far as that is concerned. We did have a little bit of a set-back in the last quarter. We did have some OSHA problems to deal with, but I think we have created new work areas for some of the staff already in the Finance building and of course we are moving very rapidly in the next few months to finish the government campus building,” he said.