Taxes and duties collected in the first nine months of this year by the General Department of Customs rose 13.8 percent year-on-year to nearly 160 trillion VND (7.27 billion USD), meeting only 67.6 percent of the annual target.

Value added tax (VAT) accounted for 55.8 trillion VND (2.53 billion USD) or 34.87 percent, while collections from imports and exports, special consumption and environment protection duties were 104 trillion VND (4.72 billion USD). Another 200 billion VND (9.09 million USD) came from other taxes.

The department aims to collect 237.5 trillion VND (10.79 billion USD) this year, a year-on-year increase of 20 percent. In efforts to minimise tax fraud, this week the department required its province-level agencies to scrutinise VAT refunds for products exported across the border.

The move was a response to last year's discovery that a number of exporters with VAT tax refunds had a suspiciously sharp rise in both the volume and value of export goods.

Most export products eligible for VAT refunds are in the agriculture, forestry and fishery sectors; the category also includes construction materials and mobile phones.

The department attributed the tax fraud increase to loose regulations on setting up and dissolving firms as well as allowing firms to print invoices on their own.

Loopholes in regulations allowing foreigners to open currency accounts to pay export and import duties in the Vietnamese currency are also frequently exploited.

Last year, the department generated 9.48 billion USD in taxes, a drop of 8.8 percent from 2011 that met 88.4 percent of the annual plan.-VNA