Public transport resumes service after agreement reached with Inland Revenue Division
BY BARNABAS MANEBONA
PUBLIC buses and taxis have resumed normal services as of Thursday evening.
Honiara public transport services have resumed after a staged sit-in protest was made yesterday by public bus and taxi owners, which dragged Honiara to an almost standstill as commuters of various walks of life found themselves with no transport.
The sit-in protest was aimed at government’s business income tax on public transport owners, which the protesters say is unreasonably too much. The public transport interim association members met with the Inland Revenue Division (IRD) yesterday afternoon.
Mr Fred Peter, representing the public transports association committee, after having consultations with IRD yesterday confirmed that they have reached an agreement on which IRD will be lenient with them, agreeing on a lesser amount that both sides have accepted.
Peter said paying yearly income tax returns will not start from 2015 but 2017, and the first mentioned charge of $7,000 yearly for taxis is now reduced to $1,500 and the $10,000 yearly tax for buses has been decreased to $3,900.
Yearly tax returns for 2018 and beyond will be sorted and made known later, according to report.
It is understood that unlike other businesses in the country, the public transport service business sector is one that has not been taxed.
This is why its system is new to public transport owners when the government recently enforced the charge last month, October.
However, understanding on the wins and losses of operating a public transport business, the yearly tax returns reaching $7,000 for taxis and $10,000 for buses first charged was what concerned the public transport associations stating that the tax rates are too high in which the business environment will be a one-sided benefit only for the government.
They suggest that the government should had consultations with them first in order to work out how they would carry out their charges compared to daily expenses and other areas that would make their implementation a win-win for all of them.
“As public business transports are new to the country’s system of income tax by IRD, as a start, IRD is planning to coordinate trainings for all public transport owners to attend purposely to know how to keep records on the operations of their businesses,” said Peter.
The public transport associations Committee has expressed gratitude that the authority has listened to their call agreeing to be lenient with them.
Public transport services had resumed after 5pm yesterday when the outcome of the meeting between IRD and the public transport associations Committee was relayed to public transport owners in front of the Multi-purpose Hall.
The public transport associations apologises to the general public for the hiccup caused yesterday over which they point that they had to sort their rights first too which will be a benefit for the public transport service in the long run.
All bus and taxi charges are said to remain the same as the Committee of the public transport associations want to let the general public know that there had not been any discussions over public transport charges to increase or so.