Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Vishnu Dhanpaul said he was not comfortable with the state of this country’s overdrawn Exchequer Account or as it commonly called the Treasury.
The account stands at $40 billion, the biggest in this country’s history.
He was answering a question from PAC Chairman Dr Bhoe Tewarie about the account when he appeared before a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament.
Dhanpaul said he could not be pleased with the figure and would rather it not be like this.
He said the account ran up with Government’s overdraft drawdown and ways to bring it down were by reduced spending, staying within means and generating revenue.
He said a fiscal surplus would burden the Central Bank.
Dhanpaul also said he expected Finance’s Integrated Financial Management Systems (IMFS) to come on stream next year and this would expedite pension and gratuity payments.
Ideally, he said he wanted to see people retiring today and getting pension the next day. He said the current situation was a major “bugbear” for the Ministry.
Dhanpaul added he did not think it was right for people to retire at 60-years-old and have to wait until they turned 62 or 63-years-old to get pensions.
Meantime at the same meeting, Auditor General Lorelly Pujadas said her office wanted to obtain information—such as VAT and hotel registration listing—from the Board of Inland Revenue to help track possible revenue loss in the country but was being blocked due to BIR’s law on confidentiality of information.
Pujadas said her office was not seeking names or taxpayers information but wanted the information to help get a better understanding of the country’s financial standing.
BIR chairman Allison Raphael said BIR’s law prevented certain information sharing since this could even undermine the tax collection process.
She noted tax payment was voluntary.
She said if the law was changed BIR would support it. Natasha Barrow from the Attorney General’s office said the Ministry contacted Finance Ministry to help resolve the matter but did not get a response.