The Maldives’ Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) has released its figures for May, showing an increase of 9.5 percent in government revenue compared with the corresponding month in 2011.
The total revenue collected in the month of May is reported to have been Rf389.6 million (US$25.3million).
The report states that 35.6 percent of income came from the T-GST, a levy charged on all goods and services sold in the tourism sector, which itself has risen more than 119 percent compared with the corresponding period in 2011.
The yearly revenue collected by MIRA is now reported to be 74.2 percent more than at the same point in 2011.
The MIRA statistics do not, however, account for the loss of government revenue from import duties after amendments were made to the import-export act in November 2011. Import duties did not appear on MIRA’s books, even before these changes.
The changes to import duties were anticipated to reduce government import fees by Rf491.7million (US$31.9million) in 2012, according to the Maldives Monetary Authorities (MMA) projected figures.
This shortfall was expected to be more than matched by the introduction of the newly introduced Goods and Service Tax (GST) and an increase in T-GST to 6 percent starting from January 2012.
The MIRA figures show that the loss of the Rf491.7million in import duties has indeed been more than compensated for by an increased revenue of Rf418 million (US$27million) from new GST, and Rf429.1million (US$27.8million) from the raised T-GST.
While the MIRA figures show its own revenue growing exponentially, the wider budgetary picture shows the government is failing drastically to offset its budgetary commitments.
Governor of the MMA Dr Fazeel Najeeb was recently reported as saying that the Maldives was “now in a dangerous economic situation never before seen in recent history.”
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has expressed its concern over the country’s dire balance of payments situation which has been estimated by the Majlis’s Financial Committee to be 27 percent of GDP this year.
The 2012 budget was initially estimated to be around 9.7 percent of GDP, but in May was revealed to be much larger after significantly reduced expenditure and increased expenditure was taken into account.
The deficit is now predicted to be Rf9.1 billion (US$590 million)this year. An extrapolation of MIRA’s figures for the whole year suggest that the increased revenue from the changes to the point at which goods are taxed could amount to just over Rf850 million in additional government revenue.
The IMF has suggested the government further raise T-GST from 6 to 12 percent as part of its efforts to plug the financial gap.
The Financial Committee have said added that the government’s deficit may get worse before it gets better with additional spending commitments yet to be made.
Head of the Financial Committee Ahmed Nazim has listed these expenses as including food subsidies worth Rf270 million (US$17.5 million), electricity subsidies worth Rf250 million (US$16.2 million), capital expenditure by government institutions Rf735 million (US$47.6 million) and an allocation of Rf200 million (US$12.9) to the Aasandha Health Insurance scheme’s budget.
President’s Office Spokesman Abbas Adil Riza has claimed that the previous administration left Rf3-4 billion in expenses hidden from the public accounts.
The policies of the current government have also resulted in losses, including around Rf123.2 million a quarter (US$8 million) a quarter in airport concession fees due to a Civil Court ruling blocking the levying of an airport development charge as well as up to Rf2 billion (US$135 million) in land lease payments due to policy reinterpretation.
MIRA’s figures are starting to give a better indication of the revenue being lost through this change in the land lease arrangements as this month’s figures show a 25.9 percent reduction in this area when compared with the same period last year, amounting to Rf59million (US$3.8million).
Current government spending for the year has meanwhile increased by almost 24 percent, to a total of US$1.13 billion. Spending unaccounted for in the 2012 budget following the controversial change of government of February 7 has included the promotion of a third of the police force, lump sum payments to military personnel, Rf100 million (US$6.5 million) in fishing subsidies, reimbursement of Rf443 million (US$28.8 million) in civil servant salaries following cuts by the previous administration, the creation of two new ministries, and the hiring of international PR firms to counter negative publicity.