Days after expressing concerns over proposed legislation which would allow the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) access to bank accounts, the Private Sector Commission (PSC) on Wednesday met with the Attorney General (AG), Basil Williams.
According to the AG’s Chambers, during the discussions the PSC indicated that they had no difficulty with the proposed amendments but were interested in certain safeguards to protect data obtained by GRA.
The business advocacy body wants the proposed legislation to also include notices by GRA to the customers whose accounts are being accessed. PSC also wanted assurance over the care and custody of the data as well as the specifying of the reasons why the data was being requested.
The Financial Institutions (Amendment) Bill 2015 was recently tabled in the National Assembly. The PSC delegation was headed by Major General (Ret’d), Norman Mc Lean, and included Immediate Past President, Ramesh Persaud; Chairperson of the Legal Affairs Committee, Attorney-at-Law, Patricia Bacchus, and Manniram Prashad.
The AG, who was accompanied by Chief Parliamentary Counsel, Cecil Dhurjon SC, CCH, gave the PSC assurances that their concerns would be examined and addressed.
Last week, the PSC wrote the Attorney General over the issue, asking for a meeting. There have been concerns that information could be misused for other purposes.
PSC in the letter that was released to the media said 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.”
The commission, which has as its members banks, telephone companies and host of manufacturing and other businesses, said it has researched the issue and has 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.
The 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 the GRA.
Among other things, the 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.
Jul 09, 2020…. Despite some early set backs By Sean Devers Arguable the best U-17 cricketer in the Ancient County of Berbice, Jonathon Rampersaud is a genuine all-rounder who bats left-handed and is a crafty...
Jul 09, 2020
Jul 08, 2020
Jul 07, 2020
Jul 07, 2020
Jul 07, 2020
It was obvious, even to a moron, the APNU and AFC were trying to intimidate the EU Ambassador, American Ambassador, Canadian... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders There have been unhelpful and destructive attacks by leading members and zealous supporters of the... 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]