President presents MIRA’s “Ran Laari” awards

President Abdulla Yameen presented the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority’s (MIRA) “Ran Laari” (golden laari) awards at a ceremony last night to 11 taxpayers that paid the highest amount of tax last year.

According to MIRA, taxes paid by the 11 recipients accounted for 17 percent of the MVR9.8 billion (US$636 million) collected as tax revenue in 2013.

The five private companies that paid the highest amount in taxes were Villa Shipping and Trading Company, Trans-Maldivian Airways, Crown Company, Kurehdhoo Holding, and Sunland Hotels.

Among government-owned companies, the award was presented to the Maldives Airports Company while the daughter of former Vice President Mohamed Waheed Deen, Aminath Sheznee, the late Hussain Shakir, BHM owner Hussain Moosa, and Helegili resort operator Annie Mary Emmy were given the award in the individual category.

Speaking at the ceremony in Dharubaaruge, President Yameen said MIRA’s efforts were “credit worthy” and praised the authority’s employees.

The “litmus test” for MIRA’s success and efficiency should be how much the cost of administration declines every year, he added.

Yameen suggested that the authority’s target should be spending 10 laari for every MVR199 (US$13) collected as tax revenue.

MIRA’s work would have to be “amplified” in the future in conjunction with the government’s efforts to diversify the economy and broaden the tax base, he said.

The tax base, structure, terminology, and methodology would be very different from the current “simplistic corporate taxation” once new industries are introduced, Yameen explained, referring to a possible petroleum tax as an example.

A custom duty levied at the border for imported goods for the easiest tax to collect as opposed to value added taxes such as sales taxes, he noted, which involves a much higher cost of administration.

In the future, he added, all sales transactions should “ultimately” be viewable on a MIRA main frame as it would significantly lower administrative costs.

Taxation in any country inevitably involves “tax fraud,” Yameen continued, which involves tax evasion and deliberate fraud.

While the current administration did not wish to criminalise and prosecute businesses, Yameen said cases of tax evasion could not be disregarded.