Minister of Finance Dr D Orlando is hoping that, by August this year, his government will be in a better position to explain why just over $77,000 in customs duties has not been turned over to the Treasury.
The outstanding money is part of the total duties collected from non-cruise ship passengers, who bought ‘duty free’ merchandise at the Tortola Pier Park for local consumption.
The whereabouts of the funds became an issue when Premier Smith responded to questions Opposition member Julian Fraser asked in the House of Assembly this week, June 13.
Fraser asked the premier to state the total amount of customs duties collected last year from non-cruise ship passengers, as well as to say how much of the the amount collected had been paid into the government’s Treasury.
Premier Smith replied: “The total amount of duty charged on goods sold by merchants to non-cruise ship passengers in 2016 was $87,107.22.”
“Of that amount, a total of $9,649.23 has been paid into the Treasury. These monies were paid in [the Treasury] on February and May of 2017,” the premier said.
Based on his response, just over $77,000 of the amount collected was not paid over to the Treasury.
Concerned about the whereabouts of the money, Fraser – the Opposition member, asked more questions and made more assumptions.
He said: “This money [not yet sent to the Treasury] is being used for something else, and I need to know. Where is the money?”
“It is Ports Authority who has the money. They have the money and the Ministry of Finance has to tell us where this money is,” Fraser further said.
Meanwhile, Premier Smith, to the very end, struggled to explain why the full amount of duties collected was not sent to the Treasury.
He eventually told the House: “I am sure the rest [of the money] should be collected [by the Treasury] by or before August.”
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