A forensic audit of a foreign company operating in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has netted EC$19 million in unpaid taxes, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves told a press conference on Tuesday.
He made the announcement as he responded to the finding of the latest International Monetary Fund (IMF) Article IV Consultation.
The IMF said that rising domestic arrears and increasing challenges from a tightening of domestic financing conditions are increasing the difficulties of managing cash flows.
“Well, I have spoken about that already, that we are not out of the woods,” said Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance.
“Things are still quite challenging. But I also make the point which they (IMF) make, that the tax arrears exceed the government arrears to suppliers.
“The amount of money which we owe is far less than what the tax payers, particularly big tax payers [owe]… We have done, and we are doing forensic audits of a few big taxpayers from companies, which are not Vincentian companies – companies from outside,” Gonsalves told reporters.
“We just a few days ago settled a big one. In this case, they had to settle with us the back tax bill of 19 million dollars. We are not talking about small monies, you know, but that has arisen because we did a careful audit and I want to congratulate the Inland Revenue and the professionals which we hire from outside,” Gonsalves said.
“I don’t talk about tax matters, as you know. I set up a framework for things to be done, but, naturally, if there is a big taxpayers with such big arrears and I see the money comes into the Consolidated Fund, I will know what has happened.”
Gonsalves said there are other large companies that owe the government taxes.
“… we are seeking, within the framework of the law to collect on behalf of the people the arrears which are owed by the big taxpayers. Because it is better we spend a lot of effort — while everybody has to pay his or her taxes — it deals greater benefit to the Consolidated Fund if you focus your attention on the big taxpayers. And we have a large taxpayers unit at Inland Revenue and we are working to make sure we collect the money which is owed to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he said.
Gonsalves did not disclose the name of the company, and when asked, he did not say the industry in which it operates.
However, I-Witness News understands that the company operates within the telecommunications sector.