Individual suspected of stealing from MIRA arrested

The individual sought by police on suspicion of stealing a large sum of money from Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) has been arrested, reports local news outlet Sun Online.

Police stated that the individual was arrested at around 9:30pm last night (April 23).

“He was arrested with assistance from members of the public. He is of Bangladeshi nationality. More information will be revealed after investigation,” a police media official told Sun.

Police said earlier that the individual has been suspected of stealing MVR26,000 that had been placed on the service counter at MIRA on Sunday.

According to police, the individual stole the money from a service counter at the office on 20 April 2013. The stolen MVR26,000 was kept on the counter by another person who was at the office to pay taxes.


Court orders Zitahali Resort, Spa Kuda-Funafaru to pay MIRA US$300,000 in fines

Civil Court has ordered Zitahali Resort and Spa Kuda-Funafaru to pay over $300,000 to Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) in fines, local media has reported.

The court order states that Zitahali Resort owes MIRA a total of $384,172.68 as lease rent, land rent, adjusted advance payment and fines from failing to pay the amount by November 2012, local media reported.

According to Sun Online, Zitahli is owned by Moosa Shiyam Abdullah Ali, brother of Maldivian Democratic Party MP Ahmed Hamza.

The Civil Court order states that Ali has three months to pay the full amount to MIRA.


Maldives Inland Revenue Authority conducts training program on financial crimes

Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) has conducted a training program to increase staff awareness of financial crimes.

A MIRA official told local media that the ‘Investigation Schools Development Program’ was conducted from January 6 to January 10 in cooperation with the police.

“The training program informed MIRA staff on how to act when they encounter cases of tax evasion during auditing or investigations”, the MIRA official was quoted in Sun Online.

Maldives Police Service provided instructors for the program.


Former finance minister Inaz leaves MDP

Former Finance Minister Ahmed Inaz has confirmed his decision to leave the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

Inaz did not give a reason for his decision, but told local newspaper Haveeru that the move “puts an end to my political career for now”.

In a response to Minivan News, he said he would “always remain independent and serving the national interest”.

Inaz was appointed after the then-opposition majority parliament unseated Finance Minister Ali Hashim in November 2010, along with six other cabinet ministers.

That vote came after three weeks of disruption in parliament, a stalemate ended only when MPs of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) boycotted the sitting before voting began.

Inaz’s resignation followed an incident in December 2011 in which MDP activists “dragged” him from a car in which he had been spotted hold holding a covert meeting with former president Gayoom’s half brother, MP Abdulla Yameen.

MDP activist Ibrahim ‘Dhonbeli’ Haleem told Minivan News afterwards that he had observed Inaz and Yameen holding a discussion “for two hours” near Male’s South Harbor, “a dark area poorly lit that is only really frequented by boys and girls, not for official business.”

“I told Inaz it was wrong, that Yameen is an enemy and why is he going to this area to hold a business meeting. If he needs to discuss business he should do it in his office.

“Inaz admitted it was wrong, and the MDP activists were yelling and shouting so I took him on my bike to Haruge (MDP headquarters),” claimed Dhonbeli.

Inaz would not confirm that this was the reason for his resignation at the time.

Tax advocate

Inaz’s term as finance minister was characterised by swiftly-enacted tax reforms, passed amid juggling many conflicting political interests and a campaign to sell the concept to the public.

Inaz noticeably took the time to meet with businessmen, parliament and opposition party delegations to explain the reasons and rationales for the various reforms he was implementing.

“All the businessmen I have met – all the reasonable businessmen I have met – believe that the country has to move to a much more structured, predictable and more coherent system of governance. And to do that we need an economic system that supports social change, and supports the change we have brought politically,” he told Minivan News, in an interview in May 2011, shortly after becoming minister.

“To sustain their businesses it is important that they have social and political stability. It would be a grave mistake if one stands up and says they don’t support [income tax], because that will bring instability to the country and harm businesses,” he said.

Under Inaz, the Maldives implemented a tourism goods and services tax (TGST), general GST and business profit tax, and was working towards an income tax for those earning over Rf 30,000 (US$2000) a month. Nasheed’s government maintained that combined, these elements would give a full picture of the money and assets in the country, and avoid the hiding of company tax revenue with individuals.

New Economic Minister Ahmed Mohamed announced at a press conference yesterday that policy of income tax would temporarily be halted, according a report in Haveeru.

Under Inaz, the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) also took over most of the Maldives’ government’s cash handling, greatly reducing petty counter-level corruption across the public sector and giving a single picture of government income.

Inaz also pushed – against subtle but solid opposition – for the rufiya to be used as legal tender for all transactions in the Maldives, aside from tax collection.

Most resorts continue to charge tourists in dollars, a practice which is contrary to monetary policy and technically illegal, but ignored by the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA). Those dollars swiftly leave the country for more financially-stable shores, instead of generating a demand for the local currency at the point of sale. The country consequently has a dollar shortage, banks have little money to loan, and the average population benefits little from the tourism industry beyond employment – for which they are paid in rufiya.

“What other country has prices in another country’s currency?” Inaz asked Minivan News, in May 2011.

A key moment under Inaz’s term as finance minister came with the discovery that based on income from the TSGT, the tourism economy was 300-400 percent previous estimates.

“Previously we had thought tourism receipts for the country were around US$700 million. But since collection of the 3.5 percent Tourism GST it has come to light that the figure is around US$2.5-3 billion,” then President Nasheed said during a press conference in June 2011.


MIRA to accept all payments except tourism taxes in rufiya

All payments to the state except tourism-related taxes will henceforth be accepted only in Dhivehi rufiya, the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) announced today.

On August 9, the cabinet decided that all fees and payments to the government must be paid in local currency, in a bid to alleviate an acute dollar shortage in the Maldivian economy.

According to a press statement issued by MIRA, Commissioner General of Taxation Yazeed Mohamed said today that the authority was in the process of implementing a directive from the Finance Ministry to enforce the cabinet’s decision.

Discussions were taking place with concerned authorities to finalise administrative matters to collect payments in rufiyaa, MIRA said in its statement.

“Efforts are underway in collaboration with the Finance Ministry to amend the Tourism Goods and Service Tax (T-GST) Act and Tourism Act to accept T-GST, tourism tax, lease rent/land rent and fee for extending resort lease period in Dhivehi rufiya,” MIRA said, adding that once the amendments were brought, the tourism taxes would be collected in local rufiyaa starting from next month.

The MIRA press release stated that “the authority regrets” media reports claiming that MIRA was ordered to accept payments only in US dollars from August 13 onward as “we believe the news reports were misleading regarding MIRA’s efforts in this matter.”

Local media reports last week suggested a dispute between MIRA and the Finance Ministry over the cabinet decision.


Nominations for MIRA open at President’s Office

Nominations for the Board of Directors for the newly formed Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) and its Commissioner General and Deputy Commissioner General of Taxation will open today at the President’s Office.

Applications for nomination will be open until 5 April 2010.

According to Article 4(d) of the Tax Administration Act, the Board of Directors of MIRA will comprise of seven members. Both the members of the board and the Commissioner General and Deputy Commissioner General of Taxation will be appointed by President Mohamed Nasheed and must be approved by the People’s Majlis.

Nomination forms are available at the President’s Office or through their website.


President ratifies Tax Administration Bill

President Mohamed Nasheed has ratified the Tax Administration Bill on 18 March.

The bill was passed in Parliament on 8 March 2010, and has now been published in the government gazette.

The Act establishs an independent legal entity know was the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA).

MIRA will implement laws and policies on taxation and will also be responsible for collecting taxes payable to the State.

There will be a board of directors appointed within 60 days of the establishment of MIRA. They will be responsible for formulating the policies of MIRA.

There will also be a Tax Appeal Tribunal which will oversee tax-related cases. The tribunal must be established within 90 days of the ratification of the bill.