…as concessions granted still not published in the media
It was in September 2015 that the Coalition administration issued a stern call to Auditor General, Deodat Sharma, to have all concessions granted within the year, published in the media.
But more than two years later, it appears that the Government’s call has fallen on deaf ears. The administration had vowed that under its rule, such negligence by the Auditor General which has been perpetuated for years would be wiped out.
Presidential Advisor on Sustainability, Dr. Clive Thomas, had commented on this matter, stating that concessions granted during the year should not only be tabled in the National Assembly as the law stipulates, but also published in the newspaper.
He had told Kaieteur News that the “secrecy” and “level of unaccountability” which prevailed under the previous administration in that regard, should remain as a mere characteristic of that “dark past.”
Professor Thomas had said, “Under the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), you had the former Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh and the Auditor General, Deodat Sharma, showing disregard for the laws in this respect”.
“Sharma failed in tabling in the National Assembly, the concessions which would have been granted to foreign companies as stipulated by the country’s Investment Act. I am of the belief that all concessions must be published in the newspapers, so that the people can see what is really being granted, and then they will be able to later assess if the nation was properly compensated.”
Chartered Accountant Christopher Ram had also criticized Dr. Ashni Singh, the former Finance Minister, and the country’s Auditor General, for having failed, over several years, to adhere to the country’s investment laws.
Ram was referring specifically to the sections of that Act that call for transparency surrounding the monitoring and disclosure of tax concessions granted to foreign and local businesses annually.
The lawyer said that Sharma has been pressured on several occasions to report on the tax concessions as stipulated by the country’s tax laws, but he has continuously turned a blind eye to the issue.
Guyana’s Investment Act, Section 38 (1) states that the Auditor General, or any suitably qualified person, designated by him for the purpose, shall annually carry out a procedural or process audit of incentives granted under Section 2 of the Income Tax (In Aid of Industry) Act to an investor or an investment enterprise.
It goes on to state that the report of the audit carried out, shall be laid in the National Assembly within six months after the end of each financial year. This has never been done.
Further, Section 37 of the said Investment Act says that the Government shall publish in the Gazette, information regarding all fiscal incentives granted under Section 2 of the Income Tax (In Aid of Industry) Act.
The Chartered Accountant had said that given the failure of both Dr. Singh and Sharma to respect and obey the country’s laws, it becomes imperative for the whole matter of tax concessions to be part and parcel of the tax reform process, with the aim of minimizing the cases for which exorbitant concessions are granted in an ad hoc fashion.
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