This was confirmed in a meeting held between the Southern Highlands Provincial Administrator, Joseph Kajetan, and IRC Commissioner General Sam Koim in Mendi yesterday.
The IRC office in Mendi closed down in 2017 during election related violence.
Since then Southern Highlands taxpayers were serviced by the Hagen Regional Tax Centre. The Commissioner General and the IRC team visited Mendi to see the business activities in the province and explore the possibility of reopening its office.
The Administrator and all his senior executives were on hand to receive the IRC team. The SHP Government acknowledged that according to their recollection, it was the first time a Commissioner General visited Mendi.
In response, Koim said "I am running a business and I must know the customer base and the potential to make more money." I cannot just stay in Port Moresby, which I have done for the last 10 months since taking office, and expect money to just come in."
The meeting in Mendi followed an earlier meeting in Port Moresby between the Koim, Governor William Powi and Administrator Kajetan, where the Governor gave his strong commitment to help reopon the IRC Tax centre in Mendi.
Administrator Kajetan said they are very keen to help IRC to re-establish its centre in Mendi and the Provincial Governtment will work with IRC to generate revenue in the province, of which a portion of it goes back to the province. The commitment includes provision of an office space and staff accommodation, etc.
About 1322 registered taxpayers (TIN) are attributed to be from SHP, with a general compliance level of less than 10%.
Commenting on this, Koim said "this is not unique to SHP as the average compliance rate for the Highlands region is around 13%."
Koim said "there are taxpayers who want to comply and pay their taxes but it is quite a distance from here to Hagen. With this partnership, we intend to reduce the compliance gap by making our services accessible including taxpayer awareness and also carry out some enforcement work."
Koim acknowledged the commitment made by the SHPG government to help IRC re-establish in Mendi.
Both parties will lay the groundwork in the coming month for a formal MoU signing and the opening of the new office.