January 07, 2014 00:00 By Suphannee Pootpisut
The Finance Ministry is leaving its fiscal 2014 target for revenue collection intact at Bt2.27 trillion despite lower-than-expected receipts for the first three months to December due to the prolonged political tensions, while speeding up efficiency impro
Benja Louichareon, caretaker deputy finance minister, said yesterday that the ministry was still hopeful on attaining its revenue goal after she met with the Revenue Department, Excise Department, Customs Department and Fiscal Policy Office (FPO) to assess the tax situation after the protracted unrest and particularly with the "Bangkok shutdown" threatened for January 13.
"After the first quarter of this fiscal year, there will be an escalation of the protests. We are concerned about the impacts on revenue, as the political situation has eroded the confidence of consumers and investors. The depreciating baht has also prompted lower imports of some products and affected revenue," she said.
The political protests, which started in early November and forced Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to dissolve the House of Representatives last month, could hurt the economy and consequently government revenue.
Total revenue was Bt3 billion lower than budgeted in the first quarter of fiscal 2014 and might continue to fall short in the next quarters if the political turmoil is drawn out. The FPO will make the overall revenue-collection assessment again, Benja said.
Somchai Poonsawat, director-general of the Excise Department, said first-quarter excise revenue amounted to Bt103 billion, Bt4 billion lower than targeted, mainly because of sluggish automobile and fuel sales.
"Usually, the first quarter reports a satisfactory revenue result, thanks to the New Year festival. However, this lower-than-expected result prompts us to assess the second-quarter situation. Preliminary, we expect to collect Bt410 billion, about Bt50 billion lower than targeted for the period," he said.
Rakop Srisupaat, director-general of the Customs Department, said first-quarter customs revenue of Bt27 billion was Bt6 billion under target. It estimates Bt131 billion for the whole fiscal year assuming that collections are not more than 10 per cent lower than the target.
Political problems, the baht weakening against the US dollar and slowing public investment were cited for dragging down results for the first three months. First-quarter imports contracted 5 per cent, compared with the forecast for a 14.7-per-cent expansion.
"We still believe revenue collection for the next periods will be better, thanks mainly to the likely recovery of public investment. The whole fiscal year’s revenue should not be more than 10 per cent lower than targeted," he said.
Sutthichai Sungkamanee, director-general of the Revenue Department, said first-quarter tax revenue totalled Bt360 billion, about Bt7.1 billion higher than targeted. However, there were signs of falling collections of import duties, reflecting drops in employment and investment. The department maintains this fiscal year’s revenue target at Bt1.89 trillion.
"We have to increase our [collection] efficiency," he said.