Nov 10, 2015 News
With concerns over a proposed law change that will give the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) powers to request information on the bank accounts of citizens and others, the Private Sector Commission (PSC) has asked for a number of changes to ensure protection of the information.
In a released letter dated November 4, to Attorney General, Basil Williams, the business advocacy body is recommending that customers be given notice from GRA of the intentions to access their account information.
There have been concerns that information could be misused for other purposes. Indeed there has been one reported case revealed last year, which involved a plot to use audits and other details to go after Kaieteur News because of a number of investigative articles on corruptions.
That incident had implicated former President Bharrat Jagdeo, former Attorney General Anil Nandlall and GRA’s Commissioner-General, Khurshid Sattaur.
The Financial Institutions (Amendment) Bill 2015 is set to be debated soon. The Bill seeks to amend the Financial Institutions Act to permit disclosures to GRA by banks and other financial institutions based on a lawful request or demand for information.
According to the PSC yesterday, it welcomes the move for GRA’s access to the financial banking data of citizens as this would certainly aid tax enforcement mechanisms and should reduce the incidence of tax avoidance.
“We do have some concerns, however, and these relate to data protection and privacy rights. We are cognizant that the granting of legislative authority for access to citizens’ bank account data, is not peculiar to Guyana and many countries around the world, particularly the more developed ones, have similar provisions
in their legislation.
“However, jurisdictions where such legislation exists usually have corresponding provisions dealing with criteria for access and protection of the data once accessed or released,” PSC said in its letter to the AG.
The commission, which has as its members banks, telephone companies and host of manufacturing and other businesses, said it has researched the issue and have found examples in the United Kingdom which has a Data Protection Act, and in the United States of America where the protection is built in to the same Act which provides for access, along with Regulations governing the criteria for federal revenue authority’s access to and usage of the data.
As a short term measure, PSC suggested that the US approach may be more prudent, while Guyana develops a more general data protection mechanism.
PSC recommended that in the absence of a Data Protection Act, it would prefer to see an amendment which caters to a number of concerns, and corresponding regulations guiding GRA.
Among other things, PSC wants the criteria governing requests for access; notice to be served on citizens regarding intended request for access along with an indication of the law for which enforcement is being sought via such access; care and control which such data is in the custody of GRA, and recourse available to citizens if said data is unlawfully released or published by GRA.
The business body said that its members of the Legal and Regulatory Sub-Committee and the Executive Management Committee, stands prepared to meet with the Attorney General to further explore the suggestions.
The letter was sent by PSC’s Chairman, Major General (Ret’d) Norman McLean.
The Parliamentary Opposition has warned that the law change, once passed, will lead to possible capital flight by businesses and possible abuse.
Sep 22, 2021Kaieteur News – The National Sports Commission yesterday covered in totality, the cost for Carlos Peterson-Griffith to attend the 2021 World Classic Powerlifting Championships in Halmstad,...
Sep 22, 2021
Sep 22, 2021
Sep 22, 2021
Sep 21, 2021
Sep 21, 2021
Kaieteur News – A hive of activity is taking place at present in New York. The General Debate of the General Assembly... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders The public health and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has rightly focused the attention and... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]