The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) is appealing for information that will help close its investigation into allegations surrounding the importation and clearance of containers for Chinese businesses.
Two reports- one on Wednesday and another yesterday by Kaieteur News- reported that GRA has expressed concerns over the number of containers brought in by the Chinese embassy in the last year. The complaints were reportedly made to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
There were suggestions that the Chinese embassy facilitated the containers, using its diplomatic privileges.
However, the Chinese embassy has vehemently denied the story, even threatening legal actions.
Since the story, several businesses on Mash Day alleged that there are major problems of Chinese businesses being favoured and in the majority of cases almost are never subjected to Customs checks. This has led to under-invoicing and under-declarations and loss of taxes to Guyana.
There were accusations of widespread fraud.
In its statement yesterday, in response to the stories, GRA did not immediately discredit the facts.
This is what the tax collection agency had to say:
Kaieteur News report on Chinese Embassy container imports
The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has read with interest the Kaieteur News Articles of February 23, 2017 and February 24, 2017 entitled: “Chinese Embassy container imports attract GRA’s attention and Container racket… Collusion between Customs officers, brokers stymieing GRA’s crackdown on corruption” respectively.
On aspects concerning any references to the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, the GRA wishes to re-iterate that the Chinese Embassy falls under the auspices of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and as such, GRA will not be issuing any comment thereon.
However, based on a close examination of certain aspects of what was reported, the Revenue Authority suspects that confidential information may have been leaked in violation of the Oath of Confidentiality and Secrecy outlined in Section 4 (1) of the INCOME TAX ACT, Chapter 81:01, and Section 23 of the Revenue Authority Act Cap. 79:04.
It is worth reminding the public at large that the mission of the GRA is to promote compliance with Guyana’s Tax, Trade and Border Laws and regulations, through education, quality service and responsible enforcement programmes, thereby contributing to the economic well-being of the people of Guyana.
We would be grateful for any evidence that Kaieteur News may have in its possession as it relates to the collusion and bribery of Customs officers, to be turned over to the GRA so as to enable us to conclude this investigation as early as possible.
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