No tax system is foolproof – Jagdeo
President Bharrat Jagdeo said on Friday that there is no tax system in the world that is without loopholes.
The President was responding to remarks on the recently publicised report that pointed out several flaws at the Guyana Revenue Authority which resulted in a loss of revenue for the country well in excess of $300M.
He said that the Government has made stringent efforts in the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) to improve the tax system.
According to him, the system has improved tremendously, and it is because of those improvements that the loopholes were identified.
“No tax system is foolproof.
You are going to have evasion, but the idea is to improve the capacity of the department to deal with evasions; and what was excellent is that we managed to isolate where the problems were in this case, and we are fixing them.”
The Head of State said that the task at hand now is to continuously automate the department, increase the tax and audit capabilities, and get better staff.
“We can’t promise to have a foolproof tax system…Even in the IRS in the United States of America, with its tremendous experience and expertise, and also support from the state (large sums of money), it still has many people who evade in that system.”
He added also that the persons who evaded and assisted in the evasion of the paying of the required taxes will have to be prosecuted, “with the fullest capabilities at our disposal; and this gives greater confidence of the system and to the country to say that no one is above the law…if you break the laws, there are penalties.”
According to Jagdeo, that is the signal that should follow the Customs scam.
“People were involved in tax evasion, and they were caught and they must face the full force of prosecution, so that it becomes a deterrent to others who may want to go down the same route.”
Given the several loopholes which allowed one importer to defraud the Government of hundreds of millions of dollars by means of importing Polar beer into the country and not paying the requisite taxes, Auditor-General Deodat Sharma is now questioning how many other importers managed to elude paying the requisite taxes to the state.
According to Sharma, there still exists the possibility that it could happen again, but he hinted that the recommendations in the now completed and publicised report could stop it from happening.
According to the completed report into allegations, the Task Force recommends that the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) takes the necessary disciplinary action against 15 of its senior staffers, who have all been found guilty of various offences.
Several others were also ordered reinstated back in their jobs, a decision that President Jagdeo represents was more than the Task Force was mandated to do.
The President has since ordered a comprehensive investigation into the assets of the implicated personnel.