We must guard against rogue elements who use the VAT to perpetrate atrocities against the suspecting public
While it is never my intention to respond to every letter written about me or the entity I am responsible for, permit me, by providing space in your letter writer column, to respond to Mr. Alfred Bhulai, a well known contributor to your letter writer column and political activist, whose letter appeared in the 5th May, 2012 edition of your News paper entitled “Only now would those revenue billions be efficiently used”.
I would first like to commend Mr. Bhulai for spending time to read my letters and more so, to go to the extent that he does of responding and registering his views on what he perceives to be his concerns over my overt support of Government’s policies.
I do however at the same time want to applaud, and also sincerely thank him for the very favorable and complimentary things he has publicly stated about me and the caliber of my officers, who manage an entity that never seems to get much public approbation for doing its job, but rather to attract adverse criticisms at the drop of a hat.
While every person in this country is entitled to his or her opinion as to what I am required to do or how I should act in any particular situation, I am nevertheless a creature of circumstances and feel strongly when the general public’s impressions are being manipulated to suit the narrow self interest of a few.
Unless there is a better system of taxation that can raise revenues for the state to provide much needed resources for the social services through public expenditure, then the entire country has no choice but to support the efficient and effective application of the VAT and to be its guardian against those rouge elements of society, who use the VAT to perpetrate various atrocities against the unsuspecting general public.
As the repository of information of all the taxpaying citizens of our country, it pains me, when I witness the price at which various commodities are being imported into our country from different parts of the world and the level of profit from the astronomical mark up that is being added by these avaricious businessmen in their cupidity (to borrow a word from Mr. Bulhai ), which I feel is mainly responsible for the high prices paid for goods acquired by the citizens of our country, especially those most vulnerable groups that are impoverished from being paid starvation wages by these very unscrupulous businesses.
Thanks to my professionalism, which Mr Bhulai is very careful to point out in his letter, I cannot readily throw caution to the wind and disclose this very sensitive data. However, the public should know that recently, the GRA has established a Unit called Post Clearance Audit that targets businesses which report scurrilous incomes from major manipulation of their accounting records.
This technique that employs the age old concept of comparing the cost price with the selling price, and uses volumes of activities gleaned from import records, has been reporting stupendous results.
The aforementioned technique, along with the work of the Audit and Verification Department that targets all categories of businesses, including the self employed professionals such as lawyers, accountants, doctors, etcetera, saw in excess of one billion dollars in revenues for last year alone, being collected.
In closing, it may be instructive for your letter writer to be reminded of the fact that since its inauguration in 2000, the Guyana Revenue Authority has been taken out of the Public Service Commission for purposes of recruitment, and our in excess of 1,000 employees are all contract staff, including yours truly; not by choice, but by statutory decree and are entitled to retire beyond the public service retirement age of 55 years.
Commissioner-General, Guyana Revenue Authority