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Government owed $100 million from employers

Employers owe Government more than $100 million in social insurance and payroll tax contributions, it was revealed in the House of Assembly yesterday.

The startling statistic came in response to a Parliamentary question to Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, by Progressive Labour Party MP Derrick Burgess.

At the end of September this year 2,928 employers were 60 days or more in arrears in their social insurance contributions to the tune of $46.1 million. Furthermore 181 of those employers had balances of more than $50,000.

Meanwhile 2,788 employers are 60 days or more in arrears on their payroll taxes totalling just over $56 million. A total of 221 employers have balances of more than $50,000.

Mr Burgess told The Royal Gazette that the statistics showed there was an urgent need for stiffer penalties for those who defaulted on their payments.

He said: “We need new legislation to ensure that employers pass on these payments to the appropriate department.

“The penalties for those who default need to be harsher and stronger than the slap on the wrist there is at the moment.

“We are borrowing money and paying huge amounts of interest on it — here is over $100 million that could be used in cash flow and has already been taken out of people's wages.

“We have to be very strict in this area, and not let people get away with it by simply saying they are bankrupt.

“The figures are not a huge surprise to me because we have long known what a huge problem it is, but we have to address it in the form of legislation.

“When it comes to people's benefits we should not be messing about.”

Mr Richards acknowledged that outstanding social insurance and payroll tax contributions was a long-standing problem, but maintained that Government was trying to tackle the problem.

He said: “We are putting four more people on this problem to address it.

“The purpose of increasing the staff is obviously to try and make sure we get on top of this issue which has been a long-standing problem for many governments.

“This is a problem that we are well aware of and are trying to tackle, especially in terms of social insurance.”

Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance

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Published November 20, 2015 at 11:48 am (Updated November 21, 2015 at 8:01 am)

Government owed $100 million from employers

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