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Revenue at Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge ‘short of target’
Publication Date : 04-12-2013
Revenue collected from Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge international border check point in Vientiane fell just short of the target, according to a senior customs official at the bridge on Tuesday The official attributed the slight shortfall to tariff exemptions on various items including fuel, steel and cement used for the construction of government projects.
The revenue collected from the bridge reached 2,330 billion kip (US$291 million) for the 2012-13 fiscal year, equal to 99.13 per cent of the yearly plan. If compared to the previous year, revenue has increased 17.27 per cent.
The revenue was received from tariffs on five main items including vehicles, fuel, construction equipment, spare parts and consumers' goods.
According to an official report, fuel imports in the form of tariff exemptions increased by 42.4 per cent in the 2012-13 fiscal year, when compared to the previous year.
The problem was that some development projects took advantage of the tariff exemption by selling the excess fuel to other fuel stations. They intentionally made a plan slating fuel use in excess of project needs.
The customs official in charge at the bridge also touched upon the issue related to illegal trade through the bridge.
About 2,966 illegal cases of import and export through the bridge were reported in 2012-13 with a total value of more than 38.7 billion kip. The illegal trade included vehicles, fuel, wood items and other goods.
The Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge is an international border check point in Vientiane that serves as a gateway between Laos and Thailand.
Last fiscal year, more than one million people crossed the bridge in addition to a large flow of goods.
Officials said the government earned a lot of revenue for the national budget at this border check point.
Given the significance of the bridge, the government has decided to use electronic machines to collect fees from travellers.
The use of the automated fee payment systems is aimed to narrow loopholes while ensuring transparency in revenue collection for the
government. Officials have said in the initial stage the use of the new system was not perfect because many people still didn't understand the system.
Officials accept that corruption among border staff will be avoided under the new system, partly because there is no cash involved in the transactions.
US$1= 7,992 kips