The absence of the annual reports for the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) for the last six years was flagged at the Private Sector Commission’s prestigious Business Summit which concluded yesterday at the Marriott Hotel.
Specifically raising this point was Chartered Accountant and Attorney-at-Law, Christopher Ram. He was one of the guest speakers on the panel which dealt with “Taxation.”
Also on the lineup were GRA Commissioner General, Godfrey Statia, Opposition Member and former Attorney General Anil Nandlall as well as Mark Wenner of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
As he offered his take on the topic of taxation, Ram said that there are some important points which must be raised if one is to truly look at the challenges affecting the growth of businesses in Guyana.
In this regard, he made several arguments in relation to the shortcomings of the Guyana Revenue Authority.
Ram said, “How do we know where the tax evasion really is? We have not had an annual report of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) since 2010.”
The GRA’s Annual Report for 2010 was presented in 2015 to the National Assembly.
The Chartered Accountant noted, “We don’t know where are the areas that you have the taxes being raised and where are the areas it is not being raised. Do we have to read the Kaieteur News to find out what the policy about taxation really is?”
Ram stressed unreservedly that this is an issue which requires an answer from the relevant authorities. While the Commissioner General did not respond to Ram at the summit, he did make a few pronouncements on this very matter earlier this year.
In a letter to the press in June of this year, the Commissioner General had explained the state of affairs surrounding the delay in the agency’s annual reports.
Statia explained that the Audit of the Revenue Statements for the fiscal year 2015 was completed by the Audit Office of Guyana. He said that officials from the Revenue Authority were thereafter summoned to appear before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in relation to the findings that were highlighted in the Auditor General’s report.
The tax chief also stated that the GRA annual reports however are dependent on the finalization of both the Audit of the Agency’s Revenue and its Expenditure, and the ensuing Financial Statements, which form an integral part of the report.
He said that the Audit Office of Guyana has since completed the Audit of the Financial Statements for the year 2011. In his June 24 letter, Statia said that this was presently with the printers and will be presented to the National Assembly shortly.
Furthermore, the Commissioner General asserted that the Audit of the Financial Statements for the years 2012 and 2013 were being finalized and the laying of these reports will follow shortly thereafter.
The Attorney-at-Law stated that the Guyana Revenue Authority does not believe in double standards, and agrees that this inherited state of affairs must be immediately addressed with both the Audit Office of Guyana and the Revenue Authority showing a firm commitment to bringing the Audited Financial Statements up to date.
He emphasized that this will allow the Agency conformity to not only the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act 2003 but also the Revenue Authority Act 1996.
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