Citing audits by the Home Office of the Inspector General’s Office, which concluded that the government of Guam had lost millions of dollars in potential tax revenue due to inadequate collections, particularly on military contracts, the vice -President Tina Muña Barnes asked the Office for public accountability audit fees levied on military contracts
Public Auditor Benjamin Cruz said the issue has been given top priority because the leak may be substantial, and his office has started to do some preliminary research.
In addition to the request for an audit, the vice president introduced a bill that would increase the OPA’s budget and empower the public auditor to become an independent entity and drive out overdue taxes.
“In order to rebuild a stronger and more prosperous Guam, we must ensure that our government processes are efficient and effective. For too long the government of Guam has lost millions of dollars in uncollected taxes on military contracts – millions of dollars that could have gone to provide essential services to our people, ”Barnes said in a press release. .
“Moving forward, we cannot afford to get stuck in bad habits that have made us so vulnerable to the economic devastation caused by this pandemic. This is why I asked Public Auditor Cruz to conduct an updated audit so that we can take the necessary actions to improve our government and make it work for the people of Guam, ”she added.
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, discussing her support for the military’s rise in 2019, said she didn’t think the economic narrative behind the rise was “so great.” She called companies outside the island that profit from military contracts “cartoners”.
“They come and they try to get the contracts and they benefit from it. Not so much with us. We see that, they don’t register their business with us. We don’t collect taxes because we don’t know,” a said the governor at the time.
Vera Topasna, head of the community defense liaison office, said the governor ordered his office two years ago to work in partnership with the Ministry of Revenue and Taxation on the issue of taxes on military contracts . CDLO needs to watch and share data with DRT, she added. The agencies looked at contract awards dating back about a decade and met with military officials most recently.
“I can also confirm that we also met, alongside (DRT director Dafne Mansapit-Shimizu), the military. And we discussed the tax issue and some of those concerns. Especially how we follow these construction contractors. “Topasna said.
She said it was also important to note that the military advises contractors that they must follow all federal and local tax laws.
“From the military’s perspective, there are administrative processes in case they are notified that a contractor is evading paying taxes. And so we haven’t reported that no one is doing that yet,” said Topasna.
Mansapit-Shimizu has a dedicated reward monitoring and data review team, Topasna added. Regarding the vice president’s request, Topasna said the administration would not delay the search for additional income, “but we have been working for two years to identify these entrepreneurs, to share information with Dafne. But his team is also well aware of who they are, because they have a plug-in for NAVFAC Marianas. ”
The Guam Daily Post has submitted questions to DRT regarding the issue but is still awaiting a response.
Topasna said that it is possible for a company not to pay taxes and that it would not know if all companies are in compliance. She congratulated the Vice President for wanting to ensure that the tax payments are made.