“We want to put the government and Sattaur on notice that we will not sit idly by and watch them violate the rights of citizens”- Harmon
In the face of what he described as former president Bharrat Jagdeo and tax chief, Khurshid Sattaur’s “devious”
attacks to destroy Kaieteur News, General Secretary of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), Joseph Harmon, has said that the newspaper will have his coalition’s “unwavering support in the fight for democracy against the powers that may be”.
The Alliance For Change (AFC) yesterday also issued a statement in which it expressed dissatisfaction over the dilemma.
Over the past weeks, several email between Jagdeo and Sattaur which exposed their apparent plot to “close down” the newspaper hit the news pages. Sattaur had sent the former president the tax information of several news entities. This information was then forwarded to Attorney General, Anil Nandlall.
Many have said that it is, without a doubt, an undeniable breach of the Oath of Secrecy that was taken by the Chartered Accountant. Calls since the revelations by this newspaper have been unending for Sattaur’s immediate resignation.
In light of the publications of the damning evidence, comments from political figures, accountants, lawyers and even the ordinary man have followed, particularly on how the Parliament and even institutions to which the tax chief is attached should deal with him.
Harmon said yesterday that his coalition considers Sattaur’s actions to be a most “sickening and frightening prospect for the people of Guyana”.
“The APNU views Sattaur’s behaviour as not only an attack on the Kaieteur News but a clear disrespect and disregard for the Constitutional rights of citizens to access information. We will stand firm by the Kaieteur News.
“We want to put the government and Sattaur on notice that we will not sit idly by and watch them violate the rights of citizens. The government’s inaction in light of Sattaur’s behaviour reflects full support of such scales of lawlessness by public officials,” The APNU executive member expressed.
Harmon stated that Sattaur’s actions clearly leave the natýon’s tax information open for “abuse at any time”.
The APNU parliamentarian said, too, that once the Customs and Excise Tax Department in any country is breached, its trade and commerce, the heart beat of its economic life, is in jeopardy.
AFC, at a meeting yesterday to plan for General Elections next year, also addressed the situation regarding Kaieteur News.
The party said, “The meeting also expressed solidarity with Kaieteur News which is being subjected to attempts to muzzle it as a member of the free press.”
Chairman of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Nigel Hughes, recently stated that he believes that the National Assembly should address with urgency the breach of the “Oath of Secrecy” by the Commissioner General.
It has always been the suspicion, since independence, that the tax department has been used as an instrument in which citizens have been threatened if they criticize the administration, he said.
“But now, we have confirmation that the department has made itself available to the Government of the day for use against the citizenry and that is really the most frightening aspect of it. I believe because of this magnitude, the Parliament needs to address this as a matter of urgency,” Hughes stated.
He made reference to the powers of the GRA, one being the ability to forfeit one’s assets and the fact it is responsible for taxing the entire Judiciary. He said that if one were to contemplate the powers of the Tax Chief, it certainly underscores the need for the Parliament to address his behaviour in light of the revelations.
Hughes then added that Sattaur’s actions to close down one of the prominent members of the fourth estate, Kaieteur News, in such a manner is an issue that the Parliament ought to address as a matter of grave importance.
AFC Leader, Khemraj Ramjattan had also said that the party has already begun sharing its views with the diplomatic community.
Ramjattan had said that his party plans to send the information to organizations such as CARICOM, the United Nations and the Organization of American States.
He said that this was being done to externalize the kind of misconduct that is being condoned by “top notch administrators” in Guyana.
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