The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has insisted that it only grants duty free concessions if the proper
paper-work is in place.
The tax agency was responding to reports carried this week in Kaieteur News questioning the granting of duty free concessions for several hundred vehicles, including luxury rides, for under-fire Chinese logging company, Bai Shan Lin.
Commissioner General, Khurshid Sattaur, said yesterday in a letter to the Editor that “duty-free concessions are only granted by the GRA if they are first approved by the relevant regulatory entities/bodies, approvals of which are then forwarded to the Revenue Authority.”
The granting of any specified concession is based on established laws and policies and would be granted taking into consideration the type of investment involved.
GRA said it will not be providing any further comments on the matter since the Tax Act includes provisions for such information to be deemed strictly privileged and confidential.
The issue of duty free concessions has been a burning one as Bai Shan Lin reportedly shipped in scores of trucks, loaders, excavators and other road-making equipment like bull-dozers, without the necessary taxes being paid.
Among the vehicles were a Lexus and an Infiniti Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV).
The problem with such duty free concessions is simple.
Bai Shan Lin has applied for permission to conduct large scale logging activities in two forestry concessions. It has not yet been approved. Yet over the past two years the company was allowed to bring in the vehicles.
This is a highly unusual situation for investors and it is the norm that an applicant has to wait until approval is given before being allowed to ship in the vehicles under the duty free concessions which simply means,
that the necessary taxes and duties charged on shipped vehicles have been waived.
There are questions also about those luxury rides as vehicles normally granted under duty free concessions, must be within reason and pertinent to the investment.
On Monday, Commissioner of the Guyana Forestry Commission, James Singh, referred all questions regarding the duty free concessions to GRA.
In response to questions, Sattaur told this newspaper that GRA would only process the concessions when all paperwork is verified to be in order and filed properly.
He in turn referred questions to the Guyana Office For Investment (GO-Invest), the Government agency charged with paving the way for new investors and their paper work.
GRA has a parking lot for its Camp Street headquarters that was built by Bai Shan Lin, an arrangement that had raised questions.
However, from all indications, GO-Invest has no applications for those scores of vehicles.
The question now is who granted the approval for the concessions.
Government, in one of its largest public relations defences yet, has pulled out all stops to defend the Chinese company over its concessions and seemingly questionable manner in which it acquired a number of joint venture concessions.
It has also reportedly been granted a coveted licence to import fuel, a concession that not many has.
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