By Kiana Wilburg
Recently, many have expressed sympathy and disagreement over the “embarrassing” treatment meted
out to Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Khurshid Sattaur, in light of an upcoming forensic audit of the entity.
On December 31, last, officials descended on the Pradoville One, Goedverwagting home of the GRA boss, and seized his firearm and other property belonging to the revenue collection body.
While some are of the view that Sattaur should not have been subjected to such an exercise by his subordinates, University Professor, Dr. David Hinds does not believe that Sattaur’s rights were violated.
“He was perhaps humiliated. But he used his office to humiliate many of his fellow citizens and in some respects violated their rights,” expressed Dr. Hinds.
He posited that the moral of Sattaur’s case is that the misuse of power could have humiliating consequences.
Dr. Hinds continued, “Mr Sattaur had under the previous regime, engaged in humiliation of other citizens who were opposed to the government of the day. He is said to have violated confidentiality by sharing people’s tax information with the government.”
“I remember for example, the manner in which he went after Kaieteur News writer, Freddie Kissoon, in relation to his earnings. In effect, he contributed to the state tyranny during that period.”
The political activist said that the manner, in which the GRA boss was reportedly treated recently, is a kind of poetic justice. “That’s the way poor people and those who stand up to wrongdoing are treated every day.”
Dr. Hinds continued, “I have to confess that I do not weep for Mr Sattaur. I am very sure that many citizens of this country share my sentiments. Yet, I am very conscious that governments usually start by justifiably subjecting former overlords to some of their own medicine only to later unjustifiably do, or condone the same, to other innocent citizens
who dare to oppose them.”
Dr. Hinds said that one can only hope that the treatment recently meted out to Sattaur does not become the settled model of the day.
He said that the larger issue here is that public officers must know that they are in positions of trust and should not use those offices to summarily punish those deemed to be defenseless, or to be opposed to the political bosses.
He said, “If the mild humiliation of Sattaur sends a message, it must be that raw power cannot be sustained indefinitely, and that the misuse of power could have humiliating consequences when the end comes.”
He added, “I do not, as a rule, support public humiliation of any citizen. But in some instances, it is unavoidable. I think this is one of those rare occasions.”
This publication had initially reported that the Commissioner General had said that he did not want any trouble and had “volunteered” to give up his gun to the GRA officials.
He had also said that his computer was taken away by the officials.
GRA officials, speaking on conditions of anonymity, said an I-pad was also taken from the Commissioner-General.
Sattaur had insisted that he was not political and had served faithfully for over 30 years between Inland Revenue and GRA.
Sattaur believed that Kaieteur News played a critical role in his removal, carrying stories about him even while he was representing GRA on overseas trips.
He said that two of his children, who held positions with GRA, resigned over the past months amidst growing pressure, following General Elections in May which saw a new government being sworn in after the two-decade rule by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C).
“I am happy in this New Year to be away (from GRA).”
He said that while in Opposition, Members of Parliament Joseph Harmon and Moses Nagamootoo had said that he, Sattaur, would not “survive” if the coalition won the elections. Harmon is now the Minister of State, in charge of the Ministry of the Presidency, while Nagamootoo is the Prime Minister.
“I am thanking Kaieteur News and Glenn Lall (the Publisher) for allowing me a rest.”
Sattaur reportedly served for 12 years as Commissioner-General of GRA.
The new Board of Directors, to facilitate the impending audit, sent him on 200 days leave.
Sattaur, contacted on December 17, the day he was sent on leave, had said that his name was very much tarnished in the run up to elections.
“…Though the current Government when in opposition had issues with me, yet I had faith that things would be different from this administration. I guess I was wrong.”
Sattaur added that he has sacrificed and turned down “many overseas postings and offers to serve my country but if you have people who don’t believe I deserve the job there is nothing that I can do. If this is how Guyanese believe I should be treated, so be it.”
He had said that during his 30-plus years, he served under leaders like Arthur Chung, Forbes Burnham, Desmond Hoyte, Dr. Cheddi Jagan, Janet Jagan, Sam Hinds, Bharrat Jagdeo and Donald Ramotar, and now President David Granger- all with distinction.
“Now if the Board believes that I need a rest, then I think I need a rest too.”
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