There are major problems facing the country’s Remigrant Scheme, offered to overseas Guyanese who want to return home to invest and live here. Almost one-fifth of them are deliberately selling their multimillion-dollar vehicles under
questionable arrangements, while almost a similar number are failing to live up to the conditions under which they were granted the exemption, in the first place.
Speaking on a number of issues that the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) is working on to close the loopholes, Commissioner-General Godfrey Statia last week disclosed that an assessment has found some troubling things.
Between 15-18 percent of all remigrants are not living up to the obligations they signed onto when they were granted the exemption. The losses of taxes and duties to the state because of the exemptions would be significant.
On a yearly basis, GRA estimates that almost $1.1B in exemptions are granted to remigrants. A major portion of this amount would be on vehicles.
A revitalized GRA said it has gone after approximately20 percent of the remigrants, because it was found that they were involved in arrangements to sell the vehicles or transfer them using Power-of-Attorney – a legal document which vests control power in the hands of a third party.
When it was introduced more than decade and a half ago, the Remigrant Scheme was supposed to be a simple one to attract Guyanese who are living and working overseas, to come back home and invest.
The remigrants were supposed to be living overseas at least five years continuously at the time of application, to be eligible for the exemption of duties and taxes.
With regard to vehicles, they have to own them at least six months and are required to submit, with the application, registration documents, insurance and other related paperwork.
However, many of the remigrants, some of them family members and other trusted parties, shortly after being granted the exemption and importing the vehicles, would hand them over using the Power-of-Attorney.
There are reported cases that a number of local businesses, including one auto dealer, involved in recruiting Guyanese overseas, are paying a few of them around US$5,000 for posing as remigrants.
With millions of dollars in taxes and duties due to GRA on some high-end vehicles, the profits from the racket have been tremendous for the players.
In terms of the conditions, remigrants are supposed to take in their vehicles every six months to GRA along with documents and their passports to prove they are living here and using the vehicles.
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