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Illegal Vehicle Importation Chased Up

Source: Vientiane Times

Vientiane authorities have resolved a significant number of cases of illegal car imports and import tax avoidance over the past six months, recovering funds due to support the nation’s budget.

The 382 vehicles seized in the capital were some of the 5,639 illegal imports impounded nationwide in the fiscal year of 2015-2016, representing some 66 billion kip in lost state revenue.

According to the capital’s customs inspection authorities, some 127 of these 382 cases have been resolved.

The capital is pursuing importers for fines amounting to over 223 million kip and outstanding taxes worth 4.8 billion kip.

Head of Vientiane customs inspection section Mr Thongphat Lazavong unveiled the capital’s plans to deal with remaining incidents in the capital last week.

He predicted that more cases would be resolved shortly.

Mr Thongphat said the remaining 255 illegal vehicles comprised some 96 motorbikes and 159 cars or pick-up trucks.

He said authorities had informed the owners of all these vehicles to present themselves and pay fines and related taxes to the state based on the law.

Cross-border vehicle smuggling is a problem the customs sector had been seeking to resolve over a period of many years.

In June this year, the government instructed relevant sectors to take stronger action to address illegal vehicle imports after learning greater numbers were being illicitly imported than previously understood.

The nation had lost significant amounts of revenue from illegal importations of vehicles over many years, Government spokesman Prof. Dr Chaleun Yiapaoher told a press conference shortly after the closing of the two-day government monthly meeting in June.

As such, the moves to address this issue are among multiple government efforts to administer the nation in an increasingly transparent and accountable manner.

He said cars or motorbikes stolen in neighbouring countries and imported illegally into Laos for sale on the black market are being returned to their countries of origin.

Those imported into Laos intentionally facilitated by false documentation are being seized as state assets.

Vehicles imported illegally but purchased unwittingly by otherwise innocent individuals will see these owners required to pay necessary fees and fines due in line with the relevant laws and regulations.

It is also believed critical to sufficiently penalise any officer involved in the illegal importation of vehicles to ensure that all officials conduct duties in service to the nation to the highest ethical standard as required.

Over the past six months of this year, Vientiane customs inspection authorities collected revenue of 1.4 trillion kip, an increase of 16.53 percent on the same period last year amid improved enforcement efforts.

Authorities have made a significant effort to combat illegal importations and related activities over the past six months of the year, pursuing some 80 cases and impounding various goods, electronic equipment, vehicles and more.

Meanwhile, Vientiane customs inspection sector forecasted revenue collection of 3.6 trillion kip for 2017, yet only 39.25 percent has been collected to date, posing a challenge for authorities as they seek to accomplish this goal.