News 19 Nov 13

Macedonians Win Prizes For Collecting Receipts

In a move to cut tax evasion, Macedonia has launched a state lottery for people who collect their receipts from shops and services.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Macedonia has launched a new lottery for people who collect receipts for the goods they have bought.

By sending in envelopes containing 20 collected receipts, people can win a house, a flat, commercial premises, cars, computers and other prizes, Finance Minister Zoran Ztaveski explained.

The government says the lottery will improve fiscal discipline, as more customers will ask shops and services to provide receipts for the goods they have paid for.

“People will feel more motivated to ask for fiscal receipts [from vendors]," the minister said. "This will reduce tax evasion, unfair competition in the economy and increase public awareness of [the importance of] receipts,” Stavreski added.

Opposition parties say the move represents an admission that the authorities are not collecting taxes efficiently.

“The lottery is an admission that many people are evading payment of VAT,” the head of the Social Democrats, Zoran Zaev, said.

Instead of offering prizes for a few lucky winners, the opposition says the government of Nikola Gruevski should have accepted their previous proposal to annually return 15 per cent of collected VAT to tax payers.

“Only a few people will win this lottery, but with our suggestion of a return of 15 per cent of VAT, everybody would win,” Zaev said.

Oopposition critics blame Macedonia's problem with its fiscal deficit in part on poor collection of taxes.

In the past few years, the government has been forced to issue state bonds to domestic companies in order to cover their financial problems despite the risk of increasing the size of the national debt.

In the last auction of state bonds in October, the government collected 115 million euro from domestic creditors.

Latest data show that by August, the public debt to domestic creditors, through issuing state bonds, reached almost 1 billion euro. This is equivalent to 39 per cent of GDP.

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