Apr 03, 2016 News
…President Granger must take action which shows zero-tolerance for reckless, unlawful and or corrupt behavior–Chris Ram
Chartered Accountant, Christopher Ram, is of the firm conviction that revelations of political interference in
the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) by the new administration summon the need for a thorough investigation.
Ram made this assertion in light of a report in Kaieteur News that Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, halted a seizure operation that was being carried out on BaiShanLin.
The operation was being executed by GRA in collaboration with officials from the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU). Kaieteur News understands that these vehicles were being seized due to the fact that the Chinese company failed to pay the required duties within the legally stipulated timeframe.
But before officials from the GRA Customs Department and the Special Organized Crime Unit could carry out the seizures, they received a call from Harmon who instructed that the vehicles must not be removed, that the ranks should leave the company alone, and to walk away from the premises.
Several attempts have been made by this newspaper to contact Harmon on the matter, but all proved futile.
Harmon was noted in the media on several occasions lambasting BaiShanLin for its reckless operations in Guyana as well as the former regime for its encouragement of the company’s actions.
In fact, the Minister of State in 2014 had said that the former government has been silent about BaiShanLin’s “immoral and abusive acts” and “there can only be one logical conclusion for that—they are benefitting financially in exchange for allowing the rape to continue.
“Citizens need to understand the corrupt beast that it (former Govt.) is dealing with.”
He had said, too, “It is only a win-win deal for the parties involved and BaiShanLin’s kickbacks seem to have silenced the (former) government.”
It was Harmon who said that he found it sickening that former President Bharrat Jagdeo invited BaiShanLin
to this country under the pretext that it was going to foster good developments, and all along the true intention was to rape this country of its resources.
Harmon had said, “It seems that the (former) Government is being paid to shut its mouth…These companies are just being encouraged to gut this country, and indicators show that Guyana is slipping further into the abyss of poverty.”
Given the aforementioned, Ram opined that if there is indeed political interference as indicated by the Kaieteur News article then it is worrying indication of a big problem.
The Chartered Accountant said, ”BaiShanLin has one of the most complex corporate structures in Guyana with over 15 companies here, making any effort to connect the dots quite a significant task.
“Additionally, the issue of the GRA interference was a major problem just a few months ago and that should have been behind us.”
The Attorney-at-Law added, “This Government should have ensured that such practices remain in the past. There should be no political interference in GRA. We need an investigation into this issue and it should be led by the GRA board itself so that members can ascertain who the unlawful instructions came from and the people who carried out those instructions.”
The anti-corruption advocate emphasized that it is time that the country practice real transparency and accountability. Ram made it categorically that there should be no relaxed, biased or nonchalant approach when it comes to the tax revenues of this country.
The Chartered Accountant also recalled that the Tax Reform Committee in its report earlier this year highlighted the billions of dollars Guyana is being given to companies each year.
Ram expressed, “We need to do a very thorough and continuous examination of these concessions. They are granted on the expectation that investments will be made in Guyana in the form of capital expenditure and employment generation and that there would be compliance with the laws.
“If there are breaches whether in GRA or in the Ministry of the Presidency then actions have to be taken by President David Granger to show that his administration “is serious about stemming reckless, unlawful and or corrupt behaviour in the bud.”
Several Government Ministers confirmed that they were aware of this issue. They, however, declined to give an on-the-record comment.
Chairman of the Guyana Revenue Authority, Rawle Lucas, when contacted on Thursday, said that he became aware of the issue on Wednesday.
Asked if GRA would still pursue the matter despite the intervention of the senior Government official, he said, “I expect that this matter would be dealt with accordingly. At this stage I really can’t give any further comment. But at least we have a Minister (who could conduct an investigation).
“You have to remember that I am not an Executive Chairman of GRA, so I can only begin to seriously enquire as to whether that really represents acceptable policy from an entity like GRA, and if that is part of their modus operandi.”
Asked if he would be informing Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, on the matter, he said, “Oh, I think my minister is very much aware about this issue already.”
Jordan was contacted by this newspaper on Friday on the issue. He admitted that he is aware of the matter. Jordan however declined to give a detailed comment on the matter, except to say, “I am going to investigate the veracity of this allegation.”
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