Feb 16, 2016 News
-remigrants have to live in Guyana 193 days each year
A weak Customs law that allowed the country to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue over time, through loopholes in the duty free vehicle concessions scheme, is to be tightened.
The legislative changes are expected to be tabled shortly in the National Assembly.
Customs officials explained that while before some of the duty free concessions were part of the law, it was not clear. This led to abuses that cost this country.
The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), recognizing some of the loopholes, had moved to bridge the gap by making it the policy. However, the policy decision has been challenged time and again with applicants insisting that law differed from GRA’s policy and therefore the latter could not be legally enforced.
According to the Official Gazette, where all law changes are mandated to be published, the proposed Customs Amendment Act 2016 will deal with how vehicles are being brought into the country by remigrants and others.
The changes made it clear that exemptions will only be available to remigrants and settlers once within six months of re-assuming residence by the remigrant, and within six months after the arrival of the settlers in Guyana.
The condition for the vehicle(s) to be brought in under the duty-free concessions scheme would entail the applicant provide a certificate of title, registration or other form of proof of ownership.
This is to ensure that the applicant is the owner of the motor vehicle for at least six months.
There is also another restriction, the proposed amendment said. The motor vehicle must not be older than eight years from the date of manufacture to the date of importation.
This is in keeping with a recently announced plan by Government to restrict the import of vehicles that is older than eight years.
Government announced the planned restriction in the presentation of the 2016 National Budget but the auto dealers have expressed concern, saying prices will go up for newer vehicles.
The proposed change explained that in the case of the remigrant or settler, if they fail to live in Guyana for three years cumulatively in the case of a used motor vehicle, or five years cumulatively in the case of a new motor vehicle, they could lose the remigrant status.
Remigrants and public officials who have benefitted from duty free concessions on vehicles are not allowed to transfer or lease the motor vehicle prior to the expiration of three years in the case of a used vehicle, and five years in the case of new vehicles.
Previously, GRA was lax in enforcing the last two, allowing a fraud scheme where persons were recruited from abroad. They applied for duty free concessions, on luxury vehicles, claiming that they wanted to return to live here.
There were ready buyers for these vehicles, with the new owners paying millions of dollars less than what would have been charged by GRA had it been imported under normal conditions.
The ‘remigrant’ subsequently flew out and GRA was none the wiser.
To ensure that these “remigrants” are bona fide, the proposed Customs law change says that applicants for duty free concessions must reside at least 193 days for each year until the three year or five year period has expired. After that period, the remigrant is allowed to sell the vehicle.
The Gazetted notice explained that the changes to the current law is necessary to standardize requirements of residency, entitlements and condition with regard to concessions for duty free vehicles imported by qualifying remigrants and settlers.
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