Apr 20, 2016 News
The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) yesterday roasted the former President of Guyana, Bharat Jagdeo,
who was cited in a daily newspaper labelling the agreed upon settlement between the Authority and the Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) as “scandalous”
The GRA stated yesterday that the entity does not encourage discussions about taxpayers’ issues or information in the public domain therefore, the authority said that it found the former Head of State’s comments disappointing, since he “would seek to expose the business of a taxpayer as well as attempt to have information on other taxpayers disclosed, even though he knows that these are violations of the oath of secrecy that the GRA is mandated to protect.”
The Authority said that it also finds it astonishing that, given the “history of violations of taxpayers’ privacy that occurred under his government’s stewardship, which Guyanese found repugnant, that he would want to encourage the GRA to continue to operate along those unacceptable lines.”
Notwithstanding, the GRA said that it wishes to point out that the matter has engaged the attention of the Courts since 2002 at great cost to the national coffers and tax payers.
“Mr. Jagdeo is attempting to reconstruct the 14 years of failure by his government to bring this matter to an end. After almost 14 years with no satisfactory outcome insight, the GRA exercised its right to settlement in order to avoid more years of litigation and the consequent loss to the national coffers, as DDL was likely to take the matter to the CCJ (Caribbean Court of Justice); that settlement was calculated based on what the law permits.”
GRA said that it is important to note that Jagdeo’s formula upon which he based his speculations about the consequences of the negotiated outcome, shows that the government actually gained a profit of G$231 million under the scenario he proffered.
“Mr. Jagdeo is fully aware that once a debt owed exceeds one year, its value must be discounted for every year it remains uncollected. During that 15-year period of litigation and based on the interest rate of 10 percent that he chose, his G$5.3 billion would have been worth G$1.3 billion to the government after 15 years.”
The GRA continued that it finds Jagdeo’s objection to its efforts to have an amicable relationship with taxpayers, including those in the business community, “troubling”.
“The tone of his views as reported in the newspapers present taxpayers as if they are to be enemies of the State. It is therefore, important for the GRA to reiterate that it views taxpayers as partners in the development of Guyana and therefore, explores all avenues available to have taxpayers honour their tax obligations without prejudice and at the same create an enabling environment for legitimate businesses.” The statement concluded.
In recent reports – DDL announced that it had reached an amicable settlement with the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) in a longstanding dispute over Consumption Tax that began in 2002.
This settlement follows an extended legal battle between DDL and GRA arising out of the Consumption Tax assessment levied against the company by then GRA Commissioner-General Khurshid Sattaur in January 2009, in the sum of $5,392,020,753.
The assessment was immediately challenged in the High Court by DDL through its lawyers Miles Fitzpatrick, S.C. and Timothy Jonas.
The company announced that after intense negotiations, both parties were able to arrive at consensus to fully and finally settle all claims by the GRA and liability by DDL for both Consumption and Excise tax up to March 9, 2016 in the sum of $1,500,000,000.
This sum is payable over 12 months. DDL, in good faith, effected the payment of $100,000,000 in compliance with the settlement terms.
But Jagdeo in a statement said that while the assessment was from 2002 to 2006, the settlement was only arrived at on March 9, 2016.
It means that DDL had used this money for 15 years and according to the Opposition Leader, if one were to calculate interest on this sum, at a rate of 10 per cent per annum, using only the past 10 years, the liability would amount to $10.6B.
According to Jagdeo, the settlement also writes off all possible liabilities in respect of Excise Tax up to March 9, 2016, so if the same situation obtains with regards to the Excise Tax, between 2006 and 2016, then the liabilities would run into tens of billions more.
Jagdeo, a few days ago, stated that the settlement has opened the door for other companies to seek refunds on taxes paid.
“There have already been reports in the Private Sector of other major companies consulting lawyers about this possibility. Management officials from a major local alcohol and beverage producing company have made it clear, in the past when I was President, that the company would be seeking a refund depending on the outcome of the DDL matter. If this company were to conservatively use DDL’s case to advance a call for a refund of taxes it paid, this could result in the treasury balance being further diminished,” Jagdeo was quoted as saying.
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