“Each year they made almost $1 billion on that environmental tax and they never used it for that purpose. They did use it for the Ministry of Finance to do whatever it wanted.”
This is the position of Alliance for Change (AFC) leader Khemraj Ramjattan as he outlined the tendency of the government, particularly the position of the Attorney General Anil Nandlall to blame the opposition for everything.
“This was their attitude with the Rudisa Company that they taxed illegally and unjustly enriched themselves with US$6Million. Now they have to pay it back they are saying it is the Alliance for Change (AFC) and A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) fault,” said Ramjattan.
Ramjattan said, “Anil Nandall who is the worst Attorney General that Guyana ever had, loves to put the differences to all these litigations on the opposition. The opposition in Guyana has become a permanent defence for this Attorney General.”
According to the AFC leader when you charge an environmental tax it must go towards environmental tasks like cleaning up the drains in Georgetown, cleaning up the seawall, cleaning up all the alley ways or doing some other environmental work.
However “not a cent went in there. When you try to ascertain where the money was used you are deceived and when they are exposed they blame the opposition.”
Ramjattan questioned, “When the opposition did not have the majority right up to 2011 could the government not do all these things that they are now blaming the opposition of in 2014? It just shows how neurotic and paranoid they have become.”
Government has since contended that the opposition is responsible for Guyana having to refund $1.2B (US$6M) to Rudisa beverages a Suriname company.
The company had taken Guyana to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) because it felt that the $10 per bottle environmental tax that it was being charged when importing its soft drinks (Thrill) to Guyana was in contravention of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (RTC) which outlines free trade to signatory countries.
The CCJ ruled in Rusdisa’s favour citing that it had to honour its treaty obligations and ordered that the claimants are entitled to repayment.
The government had argued that it had proposed legislation to rectify the discriminatory effect of the environmental tax, but the proposed amendment was rejected by the National Assembly.
The AFC position for rejecting the amendment was that it wanted to make the tax non discriminatory.
Taking into consideration the amount of tax already being paid (Valued Added Tax VAT) this would be a burden on the population and the AFC rejected it.
What is worthy to note is that the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) is continuing to impose the Environmental Tax despite a recent ruling by the Caribbean Court of Justice. This was confirmed yesterday by a source within the GRA.
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