Vientiane Times, 19 July, 2013
National Assembly members have asked the government to explain irregularities in revenue collection and the reasons behind them when reporting on the state’s annual financial status. NA members made the suggestion when debating the government’s national socio-economic development plan at the ongoing ordinary NA session.
“I want the relevant government bodies, especially the Ministry of Finance, to assess how much money has been lost from unachievable revenue collection and leakage. Is it 1 trillion kip?” said NA member for Phongsaly province Mr Khamchanh Khamvongchay. He said each time the ministry reports to the National Assembly, it reveals that revenue collection did not cover all companies, agencies, and individuals who were due to pay taxes, and they have never disclosed the amount of money not collected from these sources.
Mr Khamchanh said the government should explain the reasons for losses and uncover whether it was because of underhand dealings between finance officials and businesses or individuals who should be paying, or inefficient regulations and mechanisms for implementation. “The government should find out the facts of these cases and a way to address them,” he said.
The tax collection target for lands was also reported as unachievable due to incomplete issuing of land titles by the government, while the public has voiced concern about illegal requests for money from landowners by some survey staff in order to carry out land documentation. NA member for Vientiane Prof Dr Kikeo Khaykhamphitoun raised concerns about the large number of businesses that violated the taxation rules and cheated taxation officials, or colluded with them, which he said was discovered many years ago but has not yet been addressed. The amount of money the government and businesses still need to pay people as compensation for land transferred to development projects has also not been mentioned in the government reports.
NA member for Champassak province Mr Kisin Siphanngam asked where the money is, while the National Assembly was told that many people are still waiting for the compensation. He said the flourishing of extravagance in Lao society was one of the factors motivating selfish people, and defrauding members of the public, especially those less educated, by government officials was not being discussed regularly within ministries and departments as instructed by the Party as a way to stamp it out. “If these issues are not addressed, we may lose everything we work for, including the public’s political interest,” Mr Kisin said.