Security and strategy: online payments to transform the Internal Revenue Commission

Papua New Guinea’s Internal Revenue Commission (IRC) recently created an online payment portal, “myIRC”, as part of its strategy to bring the country’s tax system online. Business Advantage PNG sits down with Commissioner General Sam Koim to see how things are going and discuss the IRC’s long-term strategy.

IRC’s Sam Koim. Credit: IRC via Facebook

Business Advantage PNG (BAPNG): What are the benefits of the new online platform for businesses in PNG?

Sam Koim (SK): For companies, this is an important step. Businesses find it difficult to visit our office wherever they are and with the lack of proper document management systems. Thanks to this platform, they can pay and declare online from the comfort of their office and even from their home.

All businesses need to do is create an account on the online platform itself and there will be a video and guidelines to follow. It’s easy and the transition was also quite simple.

BAPNG: Following some recent high-profile cases of online data security breaches, how do you plan to keep businesses safe amid increased digitalization?

Sask. : The system provider we partner with, Niupay, has a secure contract and agreement with Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS is one of the major players in securing data in the cloud. Therefore, data will be kept securely in the cloud and off premises. We value our data and are very aware of cybersecurity threats. We have therefore embarked on this journey with Niupay to ensure that our taxpayers’ data can remain safe.

“We had a lot of trouble fighting GST fraud.”

BAPNG: How does this reform fit into your long-term strategy for the IRC?

Sask. : The vision I had when I took office is for the IRC to become a robust, modern and efficient tax administration by the end of my contract in 2025. Digital transformation is a key pillar to achieve this.

Our goal is to provide a digital ecosystem that can have interoperability capabilities within the organization. This will allow us to use data analytics and business intelligence to leverage tax collection and compliance activities.

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At present, most of our manpower resources are focused on manual labor input, mainly in the field of office work and data entry. So, once these tasks are done digitally, we can re-mobilize all of our resources and manpower to start carrying out compliance activities such as audits and inspections. Thus, increased revenue collection and overall efficiency will be a natural consequence of the reforms we undertake.

BAPNG: In our recent PNG 100 survey of CEOs, we encountered several companies facing GST refund issues. What would be your message to businesses about how this system works and how digital reforms can improve it in the years to come?

Sask. : We’ve had a lot of trouble dealing with GST fraud. I had to change our strategies to make sure those who actually get reimbursed are the ones who deserve it. I know there are concerns, but we are doing what we can to address them.

Due to the large number of fake credits, we have now implemented a thorough verification process which takes time. I would really appreciate companies showing a little tolerance and patience.

The way forward is to go further into this digital space, so that we can have the returns with the list of suppliers submitted in a structured data format. By integrating our risk-based verification process into an IT system, we hope to ensure greater efficiency and speed in this process in the future.