GRA tightens noose on Govt. concessions; defaulters to pay up—Tax Chief

Last Updated on Friday, 3 March 2017, 11:08 by Denis Chabrol

by Gary Eleazar
Those found to be abusing concessions granted by government, as incentive primarily towards business ventures, if caught will now have to pay up the applicable taxes that were waived by the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) or have that concession withdrawn or seized altogether.

GRA’s Commissioner General, Godfrey Statia made the disclosure on Thursday (March 2, 2017) when he appeared along with Finance Minister Winston Jordan for a media briefing in the Boardroom at the Ministry of Finance’s Camp Street Office.

In addition to readjusting the rules in place at the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest) with regards accessing government concessions, Statia told media operatives, “we have also required that persons who are in receipt of those concessions, must submit a quarterly report to us (GRA).”

According to Statia, ranks from GRA would “go and check to make sure that the concessions are being used for the purposes for which it has been given.”

He said as long as GRA detects that concessions granted are not being used for the purposes which they were given, “we then go ahead and charge the tax that would have been applicable on those concessions.”
While not elaborating, the GRA Commissioner General reported that already the tax collection agency has already gone after a number of persons.

According to Statia, “there are a few persons that actually have fallen into that net, its just that we do not publicize.”
He said that persons found so far to be abusing the concessions, have been made to pay up the taxes “or we have seized their (duty free) articles.”

 The Commissioner General said the agency has been operating at a rate “of about three every month, on average” where concessions have been taken away by GRA, “or they were called upon to pay.”
Statia said some of those persons have opted to make the payments.

A number of Forensic Audit Reports into State Agencies—ordered by the David Granger Administration—found numerous loopholes, discrepancies and instances of abuse of concessions granted by Government to the tune of billions of dollars.

Statia told media operatives that the rules at GO-Invest “as to how concessions ought to be granted and the rationale for granting these concessions” have since been changed.
GO-Invest is the state agency tasked primarily with facilitating investment opportunities and recommending applicable concessions on behalf of investors for government’s approval,