Ministry Says Phone Firms Must Pay Up

The Ministry of Finance has threatened to take legal action against two telephone companies if they do not pay back taxes by the end of business today.

The Ministry announced in a series of newspaper advertisements that the two companies, which it identified only by their tax numbers, would face “the strict measures prescribed in the fis­cal law such as the closure of bus­iness, freezing of bank ac­counts, cancellation of licenses or char­ges of committing criminal offenses.”

The notice, signed by Finance Min­ister Keat Chhon on Nov 22, stated that the companies had not com­mitted to paying Value Ad­ded Taxes they had collected from monthly subscribers, prepaid phone cards and from selling tele­phones.

“If they don’t pay…we will file a lawsuit to the court,” Finance Ministry Secretary of State Chea Peng Chheang said Tuesday, adding that the amount of taxes owed stretches into millions of dollars.

“I heard that the companies agreed to pay this morning,” he added. “If they do, then they have made no mistake.”

A Finance Ministry official said that MobiTel and a landline provider were the companies that owed VAT.

Officials at the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications de­nied that the ministry, which operates landlines in Cambodia, owed any taxes.

Posts and Telecommunications Minister So Khun also said that nei­ther his ministry nor any landline company “owes any tax to the Finance Ministry.”

“We are a state ministry, we guar­antee 100 percent that we do not owe any tax to Finance,” said Lar Narath, secretary of state at the ministry.

A MobiTel official said that the company was in communication with the Finance Ministry regarding taxes.

“We are in full communication with the ministry to resolve any outstanding issues,” MobiTel General Manager David Spriggs said. He declined to comment further.

Nop Sothy, marketing supervisor of Camintel, which offers landline services in the provinces under the direction of the Min­is­try of Posts and Telecom­mun­i­ca­tions, also denied that his company owed any VAT.

Pot Sreng, the deputy director of Angkor Telecommunications Center, which offers phone cards on behalf of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, also said his company owned no taxes.

On Oct 14, Prime Minister Hun Sen told the bi-annual Public Private Sector Forum that several phone companies owed the government millions in taxes.

He said the problem was connected to a special 10-percent tax im­posed by the ministry in March to be collected alongside the 10-percent VAT.

At the time, Hun Sen said that it was Camshin, the operator of 011 mobile phones, and Samart, the operator of 016, which owed the most in taxes.

“MobiTel owes a little but should pay up,” he said.

On Tuesday, Camshin General Manager Jiroj Frinamwong and Samart General Manager Som­chai Lertwiset-Theerakul both said their companies do not owe the state any VAT.

“We pay VAT at the end of every month,” Somchai Lert­wi­set-Theerakul said.


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