Beautiful Virgin Islands

Monday, Oct 03, 2022

Major technological upgrades coming for Finance Ministry

Major technological upgrades coming for Finance Ministry

Premier and Finance Minister Andrew Fahie has announced the Ministry of Finance will undergo several technological upgrades to make conducting transactions with the ministry and overall central government easier for residents.

Under the guidance of the Ministry of Finance and The Department of Information Technology (DOIT), the Inland Revenue Department has embarked on a two-year project to upgrade the Standard Integrated Government Tax Administration System (SIGTAS) to the latest version.

The upgrade contains an integrated suite of modules that will automate the administration of taxes using a single comprehensive information system.

Speaking at a press conference last Friday, Fahie said the new programme will facilitate greater transparency and modernisation of the taxation progress.

“SIGTAS 3.0 will allow for e-registration, e-filing, e-payments, and flexible reporting. By upgrading this software, central government will be able to optimise decision-making and increase the efficiency in tax collection, enforcement, and recovery. Improvements to existing systems and processes will be addressed with the ongoing SIGTAS 3.0 upgrade,” Fahie said.

He added that the Treasury Department is presently installing a report-writing software by the name of WorkDay, which will assist with its budgeting and auditing functions.

He noted this will streamline the present revenue reporting process and produce a timelier and more accurate revenue position for central government in real-time. The initiative is expected to begin by June 30, 2022.

“The Treasury Department is also working on the introduction of direct deposit payments for vendors and customers, which is targeted for May 1, 2022. This will reduce the overall cost in cheque printing and processing fees,” Fahie said.

“On average, central government processes approximately 2,000 to 3,000 cheques per month at a rate of $15 to $20 per cheque. The introduction of the direct deposit initiative should save central government approximately $100,000 monthly,” the Finance Minister added.

Even without a bank account

The Premier said his government recognises that there are people who may not have a bank account and direct deposits may not be possible. He said those people can still collect their cheques at the Treasury and locations will also be designed for collection on each sister island.

“But for those who do have bank accounts, especially on the sister islands, this will be a major convenience. Very soon, the Treasury Department will be requesting persons and businesses to provide their banking details to the department,” Fahie said.

“Further to this, central government previously paid international costs for local wire transfers. This has now been rectified and local wire fees are now being applied to these transactions, which will realise more savings for central government,” the Finance Minister added.

Meanwhile, Fahie noted that work is progressing regarding the use of e-payments.

“For government to reduce the risk and the responsibility of processing credit cards directly, it was determined that an online payment platform should be established. With this approach, the government would gain the benefit of collecting revenue online, while limiting its involvement in banking activities,” Fahie said.

“In conjunction with the Treasury Department, we are now at the advanced stages of discussions with Banco Popular, with a target setup date of the end of the second quarter,” he added.

He noted other benefits would include a secure payment environment with high-level fraud protection; a 24/7 ability for persons to make payments; the ability to accept all forms of payment that are available locally; and a system that is simple and user friendly.


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