Finance Minister to Take Tougher Stance on Corrupt Officials

Minister of Finance Somdy Duangdy

The Ministry of Finance has dismissed over 20 civil servants for involvement in fraud, including the embezzlement of state revenue, according to a statement made at the recent National Assembly session.

Vientiane Times reports that the dismissals took place in 2019, according to a statement made by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Somdy Duangdy, at the 10th Ordinary Session of the National Assembly.

A further 20 officials were also disciplined, although they were not let go.

When asked by members of parliament about how the government plans to deal with the chronic problem of revenue leaks, Deputy Prime Minister Somdy made a commitment to take a tougher stance against all perpetrators.

Assembly members noted that officials had collected taxes and tariffs but did not hand over the full amount to the state budget.

Mr. Somdy admitted that it seemed in some instances that business owners had conspired with officials to pay less tax than allowed by law, while revenue collection did not match the actual value of imported goods.

He asked Assembly members to keep a close watch on the issue and inform the ministry if misconduct was suspected.

“It is our mandate to address this issue and we will strictly enforce the law,” said Mr. Somdy.

The DPM said his ministry is promoting electronic payments, especially the payment of taxes via banking systems to reduce revenue leaks, with a growing number of businesses now using a cashless e-payment system.

The ministry’s target is for 70 to 80 percent of businesses to make taxation payments via the banking system by 2021.

A task force headed by Mr Somdy has been formed by Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith to study ways to allow small businesses to trade online using smartphones, with taxes also payable via the online system.

Businesses that continue to operate without joining the VAT system will be warned and could face stricter penalties, such as having their business license revoked.