Govt owes companies over K290m

The Government owes 16 companies over K290 million in outstanding debt.

This was revealed to Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister, Charles Abel, during a meeting with the Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry (POMCCI).

The POMCCI presented to the Government the long list of outstanding debts owed to its 16 members, from over 320 current members.

Abel, along with Internal Revenue Commission Commissioner, Betty Palaso, and Deputy Commissioner Dr Alois Daton, met with POMCCI President, Rio Fiocco, CEO Dave Conn and CPL Managing Director, Mahesh Patel.

POMCCI reports that the discussion went well with Government acknowledging the debts, and giving the assurance that they were taking steps to address them.

Abel admitted there were no quick or easy fixes but would try to do what he could.

He said with the implementation of the Public Monies Regularization Bill, this should ensure the government-earned monies would come into consolidated revenue and be managed through the budget.

There was also a frank discussion with IRC on the issue of companies being pursued for taxes due to being unable to pay because they had not been paid by the government. This often involved penalties being applied on the outstanding tax.

The Chamber asked that there be some level of compromise and fairness applied in the system and IRC advised they were amenable to that, and had over 167 companies currently in payment plans which, if base tax was met, consideration could be given to look into waiving of penalties.

The Treasurer and IRC agreed to improve the communication between POMCCI and IRC so that specific, proven, concerns could be considered to enable business continuity, without forfeiture of debts to the State.

Cedric Patjole