BY BARNABAS MANEBONA
NO public transport bus and taxis are to operate tomorrow as a march to the Inland Revenue Division (IRD) is planned out today by the public transport associations.
Local public transport business owners and members of the public transport associations want explanation from the Ministry of Finance and Treasury as to why the recent enforcement of tax returns late last month is too costly, being unfair compared to their daily business takings and expenses financially not forgetting to mention the day-to-day cost of living in Solomon Islands.
According to the Bus and Taxi Association members, part of the tax returns being implemented is for public transport vehicles operating since 2015 to pay yearly taxes starting from 2015 to this present 2018 which will be $7,000 yearly per taxi and $10,000 yearly per bus.
Within the timeframe since 2015 to this present 2018 means that each taxis operating since then to this present will have to pay $21,000 each, while for each public bus will be $30,000.
What is the purpose for such new tax implementation is what the public transport Associations are really curious about stating that the enforcement is not fair.
Public transport businesses in Honiara were reminded through the media last week that they will now pay tax to the government after IRD issued a notice in October for all to comply.
Despite call attempts were not possible yesterday to IRD, from their documents, it was revealed that any form of business that charges goods and services with the intention to make profit must file annual return. Therefore bus and taxi vehicles operating transport services are categorised as business operators obliged to file income tax returns, pay income tax and keep business records. All annual income for one year would be taxed 30 percent.
On the goods service tax, taxi drivers are questioning too on which goods are referred to stating that they only provide transport service for human passengers.
“If the government stand on their stand then on what basis do they stand on? If the government wants a tax return then they should do it in a way that is reasonable on expenses and the struggles faced every day in the country financially. Such move will only lead to problems in the future for our people through our service,” stated taxi drivers.
The public transport Associations that were joined by heavy load public transport owners during the public transport Associations meeting yesterday in front of the Multi-purpose Hall formed a Committee that will lead a march accompanied by public transport owners and workers to demonstrate their disapproval over the new tax enforcement on them.
All the public transport Association members meeting yesterday are advised to meet today (Wednesday) 12pm in front of the Multi-purpose Hall to receive the memo that will be distributed to them for their plan.
Spokesman for the public transport Association Mr Leonard Ofa along with the Interim Chairman of their public transport Associations Committee expressed over the new tax enforcement that there has not been any proper consultation done to make the people and public as a whole to be aware.
“It is not only us who owns public transport vehicles who will be affected but it is all of us consumers in the Capital who will be affected.
“So we have to ensure our rights for our leaders and implementers so that they respect our rights too rather than depriving them and imposing such taxes as these that are really unfair. As Solomon Islanders we have our rights to demonstrate our disagreements.
“This service is not only too for vehicle expenses, people have been doing this service with the means for survival of their families, school fees and such over which increasing tax this way will cause problems for families to not be able to meet daily needed expenses.”
The public transport Associations meeting yesterday ensured that their plan and proposal must be taken into action by the responsible authority.
Another local public taxi owner sharing his disappointment to Island Sun reminds that registering to operate public business transports in Honiara can be seen as the only current business many locals are engaged in as many other business services in the country have already been dominated or observed as taken over by Asian foreigners especially.
“Seeing with vision that this is one of the only main businesses locals turn to engage to is why we have to push for our right to ensure that we also want to enjoy a suitable environment to operate our businesses in,” said the local taxi owner.
It is understood from the public transport associations Committee that they will be informing Police Traffic and the Honiara City Council (HCC) to be aware of their plans for tomorrow, assuring to be in a peaceful way.
If the government only wishes to remain on their stand then many from the public raise fear over the suggestion to then increase public transport charges as well.
Meanwhile, fuel price has also increased overnight Thursday last week adding worry for public transport owners looking on the other side of expenses. The fuel price increase is the Means of Platts Singapore (MOPS) prices for this month being confirmed when queried.