BY BEN BILUA
WESTERN Provincial Government will soon take tough measures on business licence application and processes to make sure the province reaps the benefits of what is due to the province.
This was agreed during the Provincial Assembly meeting last week.
Ever since my Government came into power in mid-2018, one of the priority areas of focus is the boosting of our internal revenue collection. One of the strategies of the government to address that issue the formulation of the Revenue Taskforce during 2019/2020 financial year.
I believe we have made substantial progress in that quarter.
Premier David Gina said Western Provincial Government has issued notices to shipping operators that as of January 2021 on expected levies and reviewed license application processes.
“We will commence charging passenger levies or fees on vessels. In addition we have issued notices to shipping companies that those who failed to settle their berthing fees will not have their business licenses renewed for the 2021-2022 financial year. This will provide some sort of leverage to ensure they settle all their arrears,” he said.
Gina further states that WPG has referred a matter to the Attorney General Office regarding issues where State-Owned Enterprises operating in Western Province who continues to operate without paying levies to the province.
“Year out year in, we have always been denied business license fees and other charges that should be forthcoming from most of our state-owned enterprises – Solomon Power, Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, Solomon Airlines and others for simple reasons that they are state-owned enterprises they claimed that they are not liable to pay either business license, including building fees so as other charges,”
“We have now referred the matter to the Attorney General Chamber for some clarity so that we can have the matter solved once and for all. Our view is that, as an income generating entities, they are equally liable to the provinces just like any other business operators and should also be paying what is due to the province as ascribed by the relevant ordinance of the province,” he explained.
Gina said his executive has improved its SME data and now identify needed review on business license rates which includes liquor license.
He stressed that a reviewed policy and strategy will be submitted to the Minister of Commerce, Industries, Commerce and Labour for accenting soon.
“These reviewed rates we believe will have an impact on our local revenue level should we maximize our collection,” Gina said.
He said there are lots of improvement that needs to be done to increase the province’s revenue collection and that his government is not idle but has been actively involved in providing relevant policy direction to ensure ti maximize revenue collection.
Gina said the approach is critical now than ever in the light of the restrictions imposed to provincial government which affect their budgets for the 2021-2022 financial year.