MORE than 50 businesses in Nadi Town will not reopen.
This was reported by Gary Raniga from the Nadi Chamber of Commerce and Industry after surveys were conducted in the aftermath of one of the worst floods to hit the tourist centre.
Speaking at a panel discussion on the causes, effects and post-flood issues organised by the University of the South Pacific in Nadi last week, Mr Raniga said some businesses reported they were owed VAT returns. He said urgent government assistance was needed to keep small to medium enterprises (SMEs) from shutting down.
"There's a lot of money owed to businesses by the Value Added Tax Department of the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority. When the payments are due, businesses pay up but when businesses are owed returns - they do not come through. Some are owed for over a year but have yet to receive payments which could be used to rebuild their businesses," said Mr Raniga.
The Nadi businessman added that government could assist SMEs and keep them in business by offering interest free or low interest loans.
FRCA chief executive officer Jitoko Tikolevu said government had offered assistance packages in the form of tax and penalty waivers and VAT return payments were made as long as businesses did not have outstanding liabilities.
"We are committed to the release of refunds in a timely manner. We will only hold refunds if there are outstanding lodgment of returns or outstanding liabilities. We urge taxpayers to lodge all outstanding returns to ensure refunds are issued," he said.
Mr Tikolevu said businesses badly affected by the floods should be aware of the waiver and deferment of penalties available to them.