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DDL, GRA settle billion dollar Consumption Tax dispute

The headquarters of the Guyana Revenue Authority

The headquarters of the Guyana Revenue Authority

Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) on Tuesday (April 14, 2016) announced that an amicable settlement has been reached with the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRD) to resolve a long standing dispute over Consumption Tax that began in 2002.

The company, in a statemenr, said the settlement follows an extended legal battle between DDL and GRA arising out of the Consumption Tax assessment levied against DDL by then Commissioner General Kurshid Sattaur in January, 2009, in the sum of $5,392,020,753 (five billion three hundred and ninety-two million twenty thousand seven hundred and fifty-three dollars). This assessment was immediately challenged in the High Court by DDL through its lawyers Miles Fitzpatrick, S.C. and Timothy Jonas.

DDL and GRA were able to recommence negotiations for a resolution of the methodology for a calculation of Consumption Tax (and its successor, Excise Tax), and have now been able to arrive at consensus to fully and finally settle all claims by the GRA and liability by DDL for both Consumption and Excise tax up to March 9, 2016 in the sum of $1,500,000,000 (one billion five hundred million dollars). This sum is payable over twelve months.  DDL, in good faith, very recently effected payment of $100,000,000 (one hundred million) in compliance with the settlement terms.

In 2002 DDL had raised raised a legal challenge against the GRA on the methodoly adopted by the latter  for the assessment of Consumption tax.

In February 2005, the High Court  found in favour of DDL.  The GRA subsequently appealed that decision and on July 31, 2008, the Guyana Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed GRA’s Appeal.

Following the dismissal of the appeal, the GRA commenced a new assessment in August 2008 and, notwithstanding attempts by the parties at resolving the matter, on January 16, 2009 GRA issued  a new claim in the crippling amount of G$5,392 billion.  On DDL’s application in 2009, the High Court issued an Order Nisi pending the hearing of the matter.

DDL Chairman Komal Samaroo said that “DDL was always committed to a resolution of the matter with the GRA despite the many failed attempts at settlement.” The Chairman added that, “DDL was pleased with the enlightened approach adopted by the GRA in December 2015 which recently culimated in the settlement of the matter between the parties.”