Apr 27, 2018 News
The Opposition is criticizing the handling of the fuel boat which was detained last week, accusing Government of a cover-up.
The vessel, Jubilee, is currently being held in the Demerara River, under guard, with over 200,000 gallons of fuel for which no taxes were paid.
The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) says that taxes amount to over $36M with heavy fines likely for the captain. The vessel is said to be linked to a prominent businessman and lawyer.
Calling for the Auditor General to step in, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), which is the Parliamentary Opposition, said yesterday that the manner in which events are unfolding, in relation to the boat recently held with smuggled fuel, is raising eyebrows across the country.
“The Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) is reported in the press as saying that the boat contains smuggled fuel and a fine of $30M will be imposed. This seems to be the only sanction which will be imposed on this vessel and its owners,” PPP said in its statement.
PPP said that it is aware that the law provides that in such a circumstance, the boat is liable for forfeiture, with the owners liable to a fine of triple the value of the amount of tax evaded, as well as being liable for criminal charges.
“This is the regime of treatment to which the ordinary Guyanese is normally subject in similar circumstances. It begs the question, why this particular vessel attracts special treatment.
Our information is that this case is being handled differently because the vessel is owned by several persons who are deeply connected to the Coalition Government.”
PPP said that its sources say that the Commissioner General received direction from the Ministry of the Presidency, in this matter and that the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) is deliberately being kept away from the investigations.
“The GEA would normally institute several criminal charges in such situation. We are further informed that a top official at Guyana Water Inc. (GWI), who holds a fuel import licence, rents this licence to fuel smugglers for millions of dollars per trip, to give them legal cover.”
PPP insists that the fuel smuggling ring is huge and it defrauds the state of hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue per month.
“Yet, SARA, SOCU, the DPP and the Commissioner of Police turn a blind eye to these activities. This is so because Ministers of the Coalition Government get kickbacks from every trip. This is one of the reasons why the US State Department in its latest report, identifies corruption in Government as a major source of money laundering in Guyana.”
The party said it is calling on the Auditor General to launch an investigation into this matter and for the international community to note the “level of corruption which permeates this Administration”.
GRA said this week that the boat entered the Demerara River without checking in at the Boat House where Customs and Maritime officials are stationed.
Attempts were made to record the presence of the boat after it was boarded by Customs and other officials.
On board was discovered unmarked fuel that was more than 200,000 gallons with a street value of $180M.
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