Logging firm illegally taxing locals: Minister

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says he will order an investigation into alleged breaches of tax laws by a logging company in Gloucester, West New Britain Province.

It is alleged the company is applying tax to local staff who earn below the income tax threshold.

In 2011, Parliament increased the tax income threshold from K10,000 to K15,000 per annum, giving tax breaks to those who earn less than the threshold.

Kandrian-Gloucester MP, Joseph Lelang, asked the Prime Minister if he was aware of such practice where companies were taxing employees below the tax income threshold.

He said a letter was sent to the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office regarding the issue in his district however, there was no response.

“Last year at the log pond site, staff complained to me they are being taxed by this company, even though their pay packet is less than K15,000 a year. This is of grave concern to me and so should be to you all.

“I wrote a letter dated 18th February 2018 to the Deputy Prime Minister and minister for Treasury requesting for investigations into this matter. Until now I haven’t heard anything so I felt compelled to ask you these questions.

He added: “ Prime Minister would you not agree, that the actions of this logging company if confirmed, are not only illegal but its very actions are fraudulent in nature? Using the name of the Government to impose tax deductions on our people whose annual income is less than K15,000 a year.

“Could you please confirm to the affected workers and their families if the IRC will go down and further investigate this matter and take actions where necessary?”

The Prime Minister said he was not aware of the issue but will instruct for an investigation and a report to be made.

“I will ask the Minister for Forest to investigate this matter and I will ask him to present that report on Tuesday next week,” said the Prime Minister.

(Kandrian-Gloucester MP, Joseph Lelang)

Cedric Patjole