May 16, 2017 News
The Auditor General (AG) during a routine inspection of a warehouse manned by a registered car importer and the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) found that on the day of the visit there were two cars missing from the compound that should have been there.
A physical inspection of the warehouse in April last year revealed that two vehicles listed in the register were not found in the warehouse, neither was there any evidence that the vehicles were released by the administration.
What is strange about the entire episode is that the AG’s office returned to the said warehouse two weeks later and found the two missing cars parked in the compound.
These revelations were made at yesterday’s sitting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting in parliament chambers. It was also revealed that there was no evidence that $2.8M in taxes and duties were paid on the two cars.
Chairman of the PAC, Irfaan Ali said that this state of affairs does not ‘smell’ right and GRA needs to do more in this regard. Officials of GRA were asked how this was possible, since it is customary that these warehouses be outfitted with closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras.
It was then that the committee learnt that the warehouse has no such cameras. But what was clear is that both GRA officials and employees of the car importing company were in possession of keys to access the facility.
Juan Edghill, PAC member and Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) parliamentarian said that for all one knows these vehicles could have been used in the commissioning of crimes.
He said that GRA was in no position to say otherwise, since they are unaware as to how the vehicles left the compound in the first place. Edghill said he finds it strange that there are two sets of custodians for the facility’s keys, yet the vehicles were removed. It was at this juncture that a member from the AG’s office indicated that persons might have been able to enter the facility without a key.
Commissioner of GRA Patrick Hyman was grilled about who was the officer present when it was discovered that the vehicles were missing, he could not say.
The committee also learnt that a report on the missing vehicle was never presented to GRA by the inspecting officer. Hyman was asked if that was acceptable and he answered in the negative.
When the PAC enquired if the warehouse was still in operation, Hyman answered in the affirmative. This answer did not go down well with the chairman Ali, who said that penalties should have been instituted.
Ali is also calling for a full investigation into the affair and wondered how many times this may have happened, and at how many additional warehouses.
When Kaieteur News spoke to Commissioner Hyman, he indicated that he did not know what models the vehicles were; neither could he say what their cost was.
Over the years GRA staffers have been accused of being involved in racketeering in return for cash. When new Commissioner-General Godfrey Statia took charge, he vowed to eradicate the scourge of corruption and collusion in the entity.
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