10 Mar 2008

Push on Niue for tax defaulters to pay called a witch hunt

4:11 pm on 10 March 2008

An Opposition MP on Niue has hit out at what he calls a tax witch hunt which is forcing businesses to cut services or shut down.

This comes as Niue Government officials are in Wellington to plead for additional financial support.

DW reports.

"MP Terry Coe says the businesses are being made the scapegoats for years of financial mismanagement by the island's government. Mr Coe says tax inspectors sent up from New Zealand are calling for records going back seven years but many businesses cannot produce them - in some cases the paperwork has been destroyed by cyclones. He says the tactics are causing grave concern among business people. He says the local tax office has not communicated with businesses in years while attempts to have an accountant brought to the island have failed. Mr Coe says with a population of just over a thousand, businesses have a low turnover and low profit margins due to government price controls. He says in addition it has the highest freight rates in the Pacific. Mr Coe blames successive governments which he says have raided cash reserves, misappropriated donor funds and administered Niue by deficit budgets, expecting New Zealand taxpayers to pay for the overspending. He says Niue should not be begging for money, but solving its financial problems by itself."