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Court challenge needed against GRA powers to pull from citizens’ bank accounts, block travel- Jagdeo

Representatives of Guyana's private sector meeting with Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo and other PPP parliamentarians at Parliament Building.

Representatives of Guyana’s private sector meeting with Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo and other PPP parliamentarians at Parliament Building.

Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday floated the likelihood of legal action if the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) is empowered to garnish persons’ bank accounts or block them from travelling if they owe taxes.

“The two that are so fundamental that they warrant public challenges to them maybe in the courts,” Jagdeo told Demerara Waves Online today, are “the ability of the state, [through the GRA], now to go into your account and to garnish your funds to take money from your account to settle a debt that they believe you owe them.”

“The second,” Jagdeo continued, “is the ability of GRA, without a court order, to block you from leaving the country because you owe value added tax.”

The issue was raised with Jagdeo and other top representatives of his People’s Progressive Party (PPP) by a delegation from the business community during a meeting to discuss nominees for the new Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). The concerns were raised about government’s proposal for new powers in Budget 2017 to be given to the GRA

Finance Minister Winston Jordan during his 2017 budget speech on Monday in the National Assembly proposed an amendment to Section 45 of the Value Added Tax (VAT) Act which required a court order in order to block persons from leaving Guyana once they owed money to the tax collecting agency.

Minister Jordan also proposed an amendment to Section 102 of the Income Tax Act in order to grant that agency the new power of dipping into taxpayers’ personal bank accounts once they owe the agency.

“This provision would assist to improve compliance with demands issued by the GRA for outstanding payments,” Jordan said in his budget speech.

 

“These go to rights issues,” the Opposition Leader said opposing the proposed amendments, “the sanctity of people’s property, their accounts etc and also the freedom to move.”

Jagdeo said there other other measures to settle tax liabilities including bargaining, and court proceedings which afford the taxpayer an opportunity to respond fairly in court.

“You can’t say ‘OK, we assess you and believe you owe this’, and then behind their back go into their account and take their money or stop them from going out the country,” he added.

Jagdeo’s’ meeting with the private sector this morning was part of a two-day consultation with the public in appointing the next chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission.

The Opposition Leader said he explained to the private sector that “we are looking for individuals who act impartially or independent, of integrity, and who are courageous to stand up to any attempt on any side to influence them to do anything not within the laws on the conduct of elections.”

The former Guyanese leader met yesterday with the Guyana Trade Union Congress (GTUC). Though he did not divulge much on that meeting, he did say, the GTUC agreed to keep in touch with the Opposition on mutual issues of interest to both sides.

Jagdeo expects a list of 200 or so persons by the end of the consultations, which will later be narrowed down to 6 nominees to be submitted to President David Granger for his consideration. Jagdeo anticipates the six nominees will be presented by the end of this year.

Dr. Steve Surujbally has already tendered his resignation with effect from November 30, 2016, ending a 15-year  tenure at the helm of the elections management authority.

  • rs dasai

    Selly
    Dr. Jagdeo’s assumptions are not now ‘truth’ until it so happens. Getting a tax clearance before leaving is normal in BG. The GRA is not Immigrations and cannot stop anyone from leaving the country.The Gvt will not wily nily request banks to garnish individuals $$$ without first going thru the process of getting the ‘errant tax payer’ to settle his/her proven liability. But I do not have $$ in the bank. Then what recourse does the GRA have? Chan a Sue who(m)?

    • Col123

      You are old RS … BG???..we are called Guyana bro!..

      • rs dasai

        Col
        You have me over the barrell (rum).

  • Col123

    You are quite on track… the capacity for development as Burch called it went off with the government plans to purchase private jets for ministers…no good can come from these folks.. it is a good opportunity for the younger generation to experience bunham time good life… for the next twenty years…sit back and watch.. I will have fun!

  • rs dasai

    Prem.
    Unfound fear of Dr. Jagdeo makes him very popular and is the most blogged person of Guyana .

  • rs dasai

    VA
    Do I assume that you do not know where is GY, or are you trying to have me enjoy this Friday??

  • rs dasai

    jp
    A promise takes time to be fulfilled. Have faith.

  • Col123

    A bit testy there VA?…. my certificate of birth shows British Guiana…btw… that slavery thingy is a prophecy from that King James Bible… the Maccabee Bible did not say that the white people should enslave us….and we own black people sold us off and supplied us as slaves…and we still slaves to that King James Bible…SO..who a them people who cause slavery to last so long????