By Kiana Wilburg
Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, expressed that he has no problem if a racket has been
uncovered by the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA). In fact, he believes that if there was an illegality, the GRA Commissioner General, Godfrey Statia should go after it.
The former President made these, among other comments yesterday at a press conference that was held at his Church Street Office.
His comments came on the heels of an article that was carried by Kaieteur News, with the headline, “End of a 10-year-old racket… GRA begins exercise for registration of all heavy duty vehicles, equipment.”
Jagdeo stated that he noticed the GRA Commissioner saying in the article that with the heavy duty vehicles and equipment not being registered, they could be moved from one sector to the next.
In his eyes, this is not an issue. He said, “It does not matter because these vehicles were zero rated so if you brought in an excavator for agriculture or for mining or just to dig a canal, it was zero VAT. They now put the VAT on it. What might be the problem is the registration and the capital gains so I wish him well in that regard…”
The Opposition Leader also stated, “I have no problem if there was a racket and there was an illegality and the Commissioner General should go after those…”
It was this week that the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) commenced an exercise geared towards ensuring the registration of all heavy duty vehicles and equipment that were imported and are in use.
The revenue-collecting body made this statement in an advertisement that was published in the Kaieteur News.
The Authority outlined in the ad that these heavy duty equipment and vehicles include backhoes,
bulldozers, combines, compactors and cranes.
GRA stressed that owners of these heavy duty vehicles and equipment are required to present a motor vehicle registration form and the relevant import documents and Bill of Sale to the Licence Revenue Office, on Camp Street, Georgetown, to facilitate the registration process and thereafter have the vehicles/equipment examined.
The Authority said that it will have strategic points to facilitate examination of vehicles/equipment in the interior as well as in regional locations.
The exercise is one which comes in wake of the GRA uncovering a racket worth billions of dollars regarding heavy duty machinery.
Kaieteur News understands that for years, there were excavators and other heavy duty machinery and equipment which were not being registered. This has led authorities to form the conclusion that the nation has been losing billions of dollars in taxes every year.
Commissioner-General of the Guyana Revenue Authority, Godfrey Statia, confirmed last week with this newspaper that the entity has found this loophole and is already making moves to clampdown on the scheme.
Statia explained, “Registration means you have title, and if you have title it means you can then transfer the title. What happened is that these guys were doing the transfers by way of Bill of Sale or by way of what you would say Power of Attorney and that is one of the ways in which they have been beating it.
“It is not only with the heavy duty, but even with many other vehicles. Heavy duty has just been on the forefront for us…so when these excavators go into the interior, if they are not registered then they cannot be traced.”
The GRA Commissioner stated, “Additionally, some of the equipment that were free of duty based on these tax exemptions should not really have been granted, simply because they were not registered and they could move from one industry to the next…That is a billion-dollar scam that we have come upon.”
Statia said that he has spoken with his staff to make efforts to ensure that there is the registration of all excavators and heavy duty machinery, regardless of the industry it is part of, so as to bring an end to “the present lawlessness.”
“We are investigating this matter and we will be calling out the players to discuss this and put measures in place to deal with it going forward. We will also be working towards clearing up the backlog and collecting past taxes and transfer fees,” the GRA Commissioner had asserted.
Kaieteur News understands that heavy duty equipment and machinery are utilized by most sectors in Guyana. The National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) is one of the biggest utilizers of these equipment and machinery along with the mining sector.
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