Along with the Governments of Samoa and Australia, New Zealand is playing a big part in supporting change in Samoa’s Ministry for Revenue.
The aim is to strengthen Samoa’s potential tax base through improved compliance, better client service, and consistent policy advise on the reform of Samoa’s tax structure through the Institutional Strengthening Programme (ISP).
Amanda Ellis, Deputy Secretary International Development, explains further, “The programme is helping make tax administration in Samoa more efficient and effective. The Ministry has shown very pleasing progress against all milestones, and Chief Executive Lusia Sefo Leau’s strong leadership throughout the Ministry’s change process has been critical to progressing the initiative.”
NZ Inland Revenue is playing a key role in supporting the project, and Project Manager Shona Williams recently hosted Lusia Sefo Leau in Wellington, where they met with Inland Revenue officials and also with Amanda Ellis (pictured). Formerly the Deputy CEO of Samoa’s Treasury, Lusia took up position of CEO at the Ministry of Revenue in 2009. The Ministry, which is also responsible for Customs, has undergone notable improvements under her guidance: its 180 staff have received additional training, new computers and telephone systems and an upgraded revenue management system (RMS7) have been introduced, and the opportunity to partake in an employee engagement survey has been given to staff.
Lusia Sefo Leau says she knew the Ministry for Revenue would need to get in outside expertise to progress the ISP, but did not want it to be at a huge cost. One solution was to second an ISP Project Manager from New Zealand Inland Revenue to Samoa, a role Shona Williams has been enjoying for 18 months.
Lusia says that the relationship between New Zealand’s Inland Revenue Department and the Ministry of Revenue in Samoa is unique and works well. “Having someone from New Zealand Inland Revenue working directly along-side our people in Samoa has produced great benefit for us at relatively low cost, compared to recruiting external consultants.”
The success of the ISP was evident recently when the Ministry of Revenue received an award from the IMF Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Centre for Achievements in Tax Administration in the Pacific. The Ministry has also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Samoa Institute of Accountants.
Strengthening public financial systems in Samoa enables an environment that underpins New Zealand’s major investments in the broad areas of economic development, health and education in Samoa. New Zealand’s financial commitment is roughly one-third of the total SAT$3.635 million cost, jointly supported by the Australia/New Zealand/Government of Samoa, of Samoa’s Public Sector Improvement Facility.