May 25, 2017 News
The release of the vehicle with a false number by the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) almost three weeks ago is continuing to raise serious questions.
As of yesterday, senior police officials were not aware that any report was made to them; hence no investigations have been launched. This is both at the traffic and crime departments.
The matter is also mystifying to Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, who said yesterday that the big question that remains is who called Customs officers, ordering them to release the vehicle.
Police officials yesterday said that they are not aware of any request for an investigation into the incident.
At a press conference, yesterday, Jagdeo made it clear that the public would be highly interested in who would have the powers to call and order that a vehicle be released.
“Who called the GRA? That is the question…the elephant in the room…that is the person we should be going after.”
He said that it would be different if someone like a vendor calls GRA to intervene to release a vehicle…And it was done on compassionate ground. He said that it would still be considered illegal in this case. However, it would be another situation if a minister was to have made the call. He urged Kaieteur News to get to the bottom of it.
More than two weeks ago, Customs officers reportedly stopped a 2014 Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) on Main Street. Their suspicions were raised because it had PJJ number plates, which were issued almost a decade ago.
Inside, a man identified himself as a relative of Brian Tiwarie, principal of BK International, a contractor that has been involved in several multi-billion dollar state jobs.
The vehicle, a Toyota Land Cruiser, had affixed to it a number plate which had not been assigned to it.
The Customs officials were preparing to take the vehicle and driver into custody when they received a call to stand down.
GRA last week said that it called in BK and it was stated that the contractor will pay $31M in taxes and duties. It was disclosed that the vehicle was a bulletproof one brought in since 2014 and never registered since it was not granted duty free concession.
It is unclear how it was released from the wharf at a time when the People’s Progressive Party/Civic was in government. What is known is that the paper work at GRA was incomplete when it was released under a processing system known as Permission For Immediate Delivery (PID). These are applicable for perishables or items and equipment that are needed for immediate or emergency works.
It is unclear what kind of emergency works would compel GRA to release a vehicle that is armor-plated, without the paper works being perfected.
According to traffic laws, any vehicle that is found with false number plates could see the owner or driver ending up in jail for up to two years with a $1M fine.
Opposition Parliamentarian, Juan Edhgill, has made it clear that laws appeared to have been broken.
Edghill, a member of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, insisted that answers must be forthcoming from GRA on who made the call.
With persons jailed and fined in the past, the parliamentarian noted that the law must apply to everyone. He said in the absence of no answers from GRA, then it could be concluded that there was no call and the release of the vehicle was because of collusion involving the parties.
Last week, GRA sent its Customs chief, Lancelot Wills, on annual leave after scandal broke involving a vehicle he imported and which was rejected for a duty free concession.
Somehow, the vehicle managed to be processed at GRA without the relevant taxes being paid.
The David Granger administration, following its victory at the May 2015 general elections, had vowed to clean up GRA of corruption.
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