Business Tourism

Villa evading taxes, MIRA claims

Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) headquarters in the capital Male.

Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) headquarters in the capital Male. PHOTO / MIHAARU

Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) has claimed that Villa Shipping company had not paid Goods and Service Tax (GST) and Green Tax for four resorts operated under the company for 10 months.

According to the statement released by MIRA on Sunday, Villa Shipping had allegedly failed to pay the taxes which now amounts to USD 5.1 million.

MIRA had also refuted the claims of its officers joining the operation carried out by police and the customs to seize alcohol from Villa resorts during the weekend.

The state’s tax regulatory body went on to say that it took action under its enforcement policy, which enables it to take action against companies that fail to pay required taxes. MIRA insisted that it does not aim to cause damages to anyone in particular.

The Ministry of Tourism had also released a statement saying that the state would suffer losses if resorts are being run without paying the due taxes. It said that authorities have complained on several occasions about the companies and individuals who do not pay. It also said that MIRA had filed a claim at the court to retrieve the due fines.

The statement highlighted that the highest priority of the state would be the safety of the guests and that discussions are underway with Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) and other relevant authorities in order to find a solution.

While customs have already seized alcohol from Fun Island resort, the state had warned of similar actions to be taken on Sun Island Resort, Paradise Island Resort, and Holiday Island Resort. Customs have already started seizing goods from Villa resorts after claiming that alcohol and pork are being transferred among the Villa resorts illegally.

On Sunday, the economic ministry took action against Royal Island Resort, which is also operated under a subsidary of Jumhoory Party’s leader Qasim Ibrahim, by withholding the resorts’ permit to import pork and alcohol. This brings a halt to the import of alcohol and pork to all of Qasim’s resorts as the permits for his other resorts have been terminated since March 2017. Customs alleged that this action was taken after Villa failed to pay taxes.

Several people raised their voices against the raids of the Villa resorts, including the staff employed by the company, oppositions leaders and supporters, and the jailed former Vice President Ahmed Adheeb. In a statement Adheeb released from prison, he had said that the Maldivian tourism industry would bear the consequences of the actions against Villa resorts. He added that the biggest catchphrase in advertising Maldives is the “peaceful environment” of the country. However, authorities carrying out operations in front of guests would muddy the reputation Maldives has created.

In his statement, Adheeb also condemned the actions against Qasim, and praised the former Maamigili MP saying that he had truly and genuinely severed the people of Maldives. He called out the government for its harsh treatment of opposition political leaders, and noted that the Maldivian economy would suffer greatly if this continues.

Villa has filed a claim, stating that by seizing goods from its resorts, customs had gone beyond what the warrant had permitted them to do. It is not known whether the court had accepted the claim yet.

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Source URL: Mihaaru-News

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