By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has finally been able to complete a seizure exercise that started
just over two weeks ago. Initial attempts to seize vehicles owned by BaiShanLin Forest Development Inc. were hampered by Minister of State Joseph Harmon who instructed GRA officials to stand down.
After a series of articles highlighting Harmon’s action in undermining GRA and the outrage vented by those who thought Guyana was about to make a turnaround for the better, GRA got its way.
Officials from GRA’s Customs Department yesterday swooped down on BaiShanLin’s Providence office and collected the keys to the high-end vehicles. GRA carried out the operation in high noon.
Two luxury vehicles were seized—a Lexus SUV bearing licence plate number PRR 2888 and a Nissan mini-van bearing licence plate number PRR-3888. The vehicles, worth millions, were then taken to the GRA storage bond at Eccles.
The vehicles were seized due to the fact that the Chinese company failed to pay the required duties within the legally stipulated time.
The controversial company had been a favourite of the previous government and was allowed to get off with illegal operations. Harmon’s actions suggested that the company was about to get off just as lightly under the new government. A government official is yet to speak on the issue.
When the vehicles were being seized initially, GRA officials had received a call from Harmon who instructed that the vehicles must not be removed, that the ranks should leave the company alone, and vacate the premises.
Several attempts have been made by this newspaper to contact Harmon on the matter, but all proved futile. The article was first published on Thursday, and four days have elapsed and the Minister has not even issued a statement in an effort to clear the air.
Anti-corruption advocates are outraged. David Hinds, Christopher Ram and Anand Goolsarran have all made strong comments on the matter. They all expressed disappointment in Harmon and said Guyana cannot be made to suffer a repeat of what occurred under the rule of the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C).
Goolsarran said, “This runaway train must be halted in its track before it is too late,” as he noted the repercussions of political interference in GRA.
Citizens have also been airing their disappointment in the letter pages of Kaieteur News.
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