The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) disagrees with the opinion of Auditor General, Deodat
Sharma that it is delaying works on its annual reports.
In fact, GRA Commissioner-General, Godfrey Statia told Kaieteur News that it is the Audit Office which has hit the pause button on the works needed to finalize the annual reports. The tax chief said that efforts in this regard have been put off until December.
Statia said that when it comes to the 2011 annual report, it is completed. A copy has been sent to Finance Minister Winston Jordan so that it can be laid in the National Assembly. Statia stated that GRA’s 2012 report is at the printers. As for the annual reports for 2013 to 2015, Statia said that the revenue authority is waiting on the Audit Office to finalize those. He said that the reports are still in draft stage.
The GRA Commissioner-General asserted, “Two weeks ago, I spoke to a staffer of the audit office…He said that they would not be able to come until December. So the Auditor General saying we are keeping it back is wrong and false, and he should change it.”
Statia added, “The revenue side of the reports has been audited. It is the expenditure side that is posing some issues, and the reason is that there was a mix up in the final accounts between certain statements and some reconciliation has to be done.”
The tax chief revealed, “That has since been completed and the Auditor General was informed over a month ago that this was the case and we are waiting on him.”
Statia emphasized that it is the Audit Office that is insisting it cannot deal with the work for the annual reports until December.
Auditor General Deodat Sharma had told Kaieteur News that the 2010 annual report for GRA was the last report to be laid in the National Assembly. This report was only handed over to the Parliament in 2015.
Sharma contended that the revenue authority took quite a while to answer some of the questions in relation to annual reports for previous years. Be that as it may, he confirmed that the Audit Office is finished with reports for the years
2011 and 2012.
“But for 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, we are waiting on the statements so that we can commence the audit,” the Auditor General had said.
In response to this, Statia said, “We need to understand that the Auditor General has staff here and they ought to be able, as soon as they recognize that they need something, to request it…”
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 Business Summit which was held 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.”
As he offered his take on the topic of taxation, Ram 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 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, who was at the forum, did not respond to Ram at the summit, he did make a few pronouncements on this very matter earlier this year. (Kiana Wilburg)
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