Online purchases need monitoring’

Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority Chief Executive Officer Visvanath Das (2nd from right) attend the World CustomsOrganization Asia/pacific 2018 Private Sector Engagement Conference in Nadi. Picture: REINAL CHAND

ONLINE purchasing trends and how to ensure people are behaving ethically is something that needs to be monitored very carefully, says Fiji Revenue and Customs Service (FRCS) CEO Visvanath Das.Speaking at a press conference during a private sector engagement conference held in Nadi yesterday, he said a lot of data collection was needed before the FRCS could begin to look at ways to address issues.

“In terms of online purchasing, when the value is less than $400 it becomes a personal import so it is not chargeable to duty, but the trend to be followed up is those who are receiving  multiple items below the $400 import threshold,” he said.

“That is something that needs to be monitored and we need to trend it and then take corrective actions for that.

“It is about the trust and confidence relationship that needs to be nurtured and grown to come to that level of compliance.”

Mr Das said with the import of bulk physical goods, it was easy to inspect cargo containers and apply duty rates, the same could not be said of online purchases.

“If someone is buying on eBay or Amazon or Alibaba, if we say we will impose some taxation, then how does it get collected and how does it get remitted to the respective importing country administration — these are all big challenges.

“When you look at the space of Amazon, Alibaba and eBay, then we also have to put up with the fact that different nations are of different sizes, who gets the attention and who does not.

“The good news is that we are looking in that direction, we have these thoughts, we are fully aware of what’s happening, but it’s a matter of time and proper systems and processes — we wouldn’t want to roll out things that we are not fully prepared for.”

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