Almost 500 vehicles illegally registered in Guyana – GRA
By Leonard Gildarie
The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) says that it has discovered numerous cases of false documents across the country being used to register vehicles.
And a great number of these vehicles came from as close as Suriname and Brazil and were left in Guyana illegally.
The discovery came as the tax regulatory body continues an operation to automate its system of the sale and issuance of motor vehicle licences.
According to GRA, in an advertisement in the Sunday’s edition of Kaieteur News warning guilty vehicle owners, “the updating of our database has given rise to the discovery of numerous false documents which were used to support licences previously purchased at some locations.”
In the cases it found, GRA noted that there is evidence that the motor vehicles have not been properly registered or transferred.
“The Guyana Revenue Authority is therefore encouraging owners and persons who have knowledge of; or are in possession of such illegally utilised motor vehicles, to come forward voluntarily in order that these vehicles can be properly registered.”
GRA warned that if any vehicle is found to be at fault during enforcement activities of the body, the failure to adhere to the warning of the advertisement will result in severe fines and penalties being imposed.
It is not an unknown thing that the Licence and Revenue Department arm of GRA, had over the years been contending with all kinds of attempts to evade duties and taxes from GRA.
And the GRA should know.
Yesterday, Commissioner-General, Khurshid Sattaur, said that from estimation, there could be as much as 400-500 illegally registered vehicles in the country.
Some of these vehicles were brought in from Suriname and Brazil; were given a few weeks to stay and should have returned to the originating country.
“We have found that many of these vehicles were left here and people submitted all kinds of documents to show that it is legally purchased here.”
The official warned that offenders could find themselves jailed and the vehicles seized if they fail to regularise these vehicles.
“I know of one man. He came in and because of the type of vehicle, he was asked to pay taxes of about $6M. He is running everywhere to everyone and giving us a hard time. The reality is that he has to pay.”
With some classes of vehicles attracting taxes almost twice the cost of the vehicle, in some instances, some persons intent on evading the taxes would present official looking documents that say taxes were paid.
In many instances also, Sattaur said yesterday, some importers would weld the chassis number of an old car which may have been written off, to the new one and use the documents of the former.
But, GRA’s system is weeding out these scams, the official said yesterday.
There are also other instances where deliberately, auto importers would ship a vehicle into the country in parts and then re-assemble them, sometimes using old registrations or even registering them as new vehicles.
How this gets past the officials at the various checks and balances point is unclear, but there have been accusations that staffers at the tax department were helping.
However, one thing was clear yesterday. The Commissioner-General is intent on stamping out the practice and the new automated system which would link up to GRA offices across the country would be picking up the anomalies.