THE Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority is looking at reforming and improving processes and procedures at our ports, which should in turn greatly improve the country’s export and import business as well as improve services to visitors.
FRCA Chairman Mr. Ajith Kodagoda and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Jitoko Tikolevu and Chairman, were in Singapore this week meeting with the country’s experts discussing ways in which Fiji could learn from the country.
“It is a well-known fact that Singapore has one of the most if not the most efficient Customs Authorities in the world. The turnaround time of Customs entries and documentation relating to import and exports, is only a maximum of 10 minutes in comparison to a minimum of 48 hours in Fiji. The value of shipments transiting via Singapore is 3 times the GDP of the Country as they have made it very easy and friendly for importers and exporters,” Mr. Kodagoda explained.
The Chairman and CEO met with Mr. Fong Kian, Singapore’s Director-General of Customs, Ms. Ho Jeanine, Head of Intelligence, and Mr Winston Hua, Head of Procedures & systems.
“The purpose of the visit was to extensively discuss the learning’s from Singapore on how to improve the services to business houses and visitors to the country.”
“FRCA is looking at the possibility of introducing similar incentives to assist Business houses who use Fiji as an export hub to the region,” Mr. Kodagoda said.
When introduced and subject to certain guidelines, genuine businesses would be allowed to import goods into Fiji and keep them at approved warehouses for transit and later re-exporting them. FRCA will explore the possibility of non-payment of VAT and the cumbersome duty drawback system.
Mr. Kodagoda said with Fiji’s geographical location, our ports have the potential of becoming major export hubs. Furthermore, by introducing these incentives, businesses would have better cash flow as no funds would be tied up in VAT payments.
FRCA is also discussing the possibilities of automating the Tourist VAT refund scheme, as in Singapore, which minimizes paper work, makes the process more robust and fraud proof, and tourist friendly.
Singapore Customs has reiterated its commitment to assist Fiji in any way possible in the reform process.
Mr. Tikolevu said it was important that FRCA improves its processes, which in turn would improve economic growth as well as revenue collection.