Concerns raised over Coral Sea 100 percent exemption
By EDDIE OSIFELO
CONCERNS have been expressed over the 100 percent tax exemption Coral Sea Resort and Casino has been enjoying since its establishment in 2017.
Opposition leader Matthew Wale raised the matter with officials of the Ministry of Finance and Treasury when they appeared before the Public Accounts Committee, Wednesday.
The PAC was enquiring into the $385, 001,627 the Government is seeking through the 2020 Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2020.
Comptroller of Customs Jim Sutton, who was appointed the chairman of the Exemption Committee last month, said the tax exemption issue with Coral Sea is quite difficult because it was granted by his predecessor.
Sutton agreed the exemption was “too generous” and not fair to competitors in the same sector.
He also revealed that since he became the chairman, he has granted 50 percent tax exemptions to 14 of 24 applicants.
He said companies that applied for 100 percent tax exemption will have to see the Finance minister.
Inland Revenue Division Commissioner, Joseph Dokekana said the Coral Sea tax exemption case was quite difficult because it fell under the “confidential information” category.
Dokekana said the resort was granted its tax exemption starting from its construction phase and was renewed last month until 2021.
Opposition Leader, Wale said the Coral Sea tax exemption might appear legal because a Honiara law firm prepared and submitted their application.
However, he said he believed there was political influence behind the decision to grant the resort its 100 percent duty exemption.
Wale added this issue needs to be dealt with and addressed fairly.
Company Haus records show Coral Sea Resort and Casino is registered under Honiara Casino Limited.
The directors of Honiara Casino Limited are:
- Anthony Edward Fargas from Australia. He was consented to act as a director for this company and appointed on September 9, 2010.
- Harry Stewart of Solomon Islands, who has consented to act as a director for this company and appointed on September 9, 2010.
- Thompson Turueke of Solomon Islands. He has consented to act as a director for this company and appointed on February 22, 1995.
Company Haus records also show the shareholders of Honiara Casino Limited are ESTATE OF H.A FARGAS with one share.
This entity has non Solomon Islands citizens as shareholders.
The other shareholder is Grainger Corporation, which owns 99 shares in the company.
Both entities were appointed on March 30, 2011.