GRA takes no blame for delay in MovieTowne’s opening; refused to grant backdated concessions

Last Updated on Sunday, 17 June 2018, 22:26 by Denis Chabrol

An aerial view of MovieTowne, Georgetown, Guyana.

The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) on Sunday denied that it was responsible for  the delay in the opening of the US$40 million MovieTowne because equipment and seating were at wharves for weeks awaiting “simple signatures”.

Commissioner-General of the GRA, Godfrey Statia, said while guided by the rules of confidentiality, the tax agency must set the record straight. “There were no delays on GRA’s part,” the GRA boss stated.

He noted that before MovieTowne was granted an Investment Development Agreement in December 2017, the GRA facilitated MovieTowne with a Prior to Processing (PTP) arrangement on November 19, 2017, to allow Movietowne to clear its goods. “Movietowne’s container arrived at the wharf on October 21, 2017 and was uplifted on November 28, 2017, after the grant of the PTP,” Statia said. He added that MovieTowne waited until the container was at the wharf to apply for the concessions and to submit an incomplete IDA.

The IDA, which was eventually granted on December 29, 2017 by Finance Minister Winston Jordan after all outstanding requirements had been submitted, allows for the imports and waiver of duty and Value Added Tax on the amount of GY$1.073 billion. But by that time, the GRA said it had already facilitated the clearance of Movietowne’s goods through the PTP process.

The GRA Commissioner-General also said Movietowne failed in its bid to have concessions backdated to 2011 when construction began. “In 2017, the principal of Movietowne first met with the GRA to discuss the issue of concessions. At that meeting, a request was made for the concessions to be backdated to the commencement of construction to which GRA advised that Concessions cannot be backdated and should have been applied for prior to construction,” Statia said.

The GRA said it also advised the principal that equipment used in the construction of Movietowne was in breach of the terms of an IDA under which equipment that was earmarked for another major project was being utilised in its construction.

Statia said despite that breach, the GRA agreed that only after the MovieTowne project is completed would the tax agency “proceed with the available remedies of the said breach.”