Tax Chief denies PPP members being targeted; says public officers, MPs must be held to “higher standard”

Last Updated on Friday, 16 December 2016, 18:45 by Denis Chabrol

Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Godfrey Statia. In background is Finance Minister, Winston Jordan.

Commissioner- General of the Guyana Revenue Authority, Godfrey Statia on Friday refuted claims by Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo that several parliamentarians have been politically targeted by being issued property tax demand notices.

“I would like to assure the Opposition Leader that if there was any political intervention, any targeting, it would not have been for those five persons because I am sure those five persons is a drop in the bucket,” Statia told a news conference.

The Commissioner-General said parliamentarians across the political divide and heads of government agencies have been issued demand notices for taxes owed if they have failed to file their returns on or before April 30 because those categories of persons must be made to set an example. “Everybody at the top of all the government agencies, I instructed that they must submit all the outstanding returns, they must be demanded from them because holding a public office you must be held to a higher standard,” he said.

Statia maintained that so far he has not received any political instructions and that Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan has been hands-off. The Tax Chief assured that the GRA would ne administering the law fairly without political intervention.

The GRA Commissioner-General said he knew nothing about persons being targeted because when he perused the list in August , 2016 notices were sent out to all parliamentarians and Permanent Secretaries.  “As for targeting I do not know but I could tell you plain and straight, unfortunately it may have reached them at this time,” he said. Statia added that certain notices have reached the opposition long before.

He said the GRA has decided not to include return addresses on the envelopes containing demand notices because in recent times taxpayers have been refusing to sign for such registered mail.

“I keep maintaining that holders of public offices must be held to a higher standard,”  he said.

Law enforcement authorities have for several months been probing how Former President Jagdeo and then senior government ministers and other officials had acquired prime seaside lands at Goedverwagting well below market prices.