Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Somdy Duangdy, told Lao media recently that the government has introduced several electronic channels to make it easier for people to pay tax.
“We are trying not to collect taxes and fees in cash,” he said, explaining that bypassing officials who collect cash from taxpayers is one of the ministry’s measures to boost national revenue.
At border checkpoints, a smart tax system has been introduced to make it easier for people to pay various tariffs and fees.
“We also want to collect all taxes and fees at one place, particularly at the international border checkpoints. The move is designed to not only facilitate taxpayers but to plug loopholes which result in financial leaks,” Mr Somdy said.
Moreover, taxpayers have been encouraged to pay at commercial banks and via other e-tax payment systems to boost national income in the aftermath of a revenue shortfall.
A new land tax payment system was introduced last year, similar to the way road tax is paid through the Banque pour le Commerce Exterieur Lao Public (BCEL).
Those living in urban areas, where banks are available, are encouraged to pay their land tax electronically, but those living in rural areas can make payment to village authorities.
The government has acknowledged that Laos has a vast potential to amass income from land. Nevertheless, the government still struggles to capitalise on the revenue from this source.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Finance introduced a new e-tax payment system for businesses which will be rolled out across the country by 2020.
The deputy PM reaffirmed that his ministry would strictly enforce the 10 prohibition rule and would punish those found violating it.
He said many financial officials had been disciplined over recent years for violating this rule. “We have punished many officials but don’t publish this in the media,” he said.
The deputy PM said the finance ministry had issued a notice, informing all border checkpoints that contracted staff are banned from inspecting imported goods or vehicles. Only government officials are allowed to discharge this duty.
In the past, errors have been reported, and the state officials often passed the buck to the contracted staff for any mistakes.
The government has moved to modernise its tax payment system to boost national income. In 2019, the government plans to collect 26.3 trillion kip in revenue, with domestic revenues expected to touch 24.24 trillion kip and budget expenditure set at 33.39 trillion kip.