Jun 24, 2018 News
“The GRA (Guyana Revenue Authority) is not only working to enable a level playing field for both local and foreign investors but also at ensuring that concessions granted through Investment agreements are utilized for the purposes given.”
So said GRA Commissioner General, Godfrey Statia, on Thursday, as he addressed the Private Sector Commission (PSC) at its Annual General Meeting.
Statia’s announcement comes on the heels of several media reports involving Movie Towne and the concessions it was given.
It all started when Movie Towne claimed that its project was being stalled by GRA’s reluctance to sign off on certain concessions.
Then Roy Beepat issued a public missive asking for the Movie Towne Concessions to be disclosed. Beepat is the head of the Giftland Mall, located a short distance from the MovieTowne complex.
Beepat claimed that his company received very little, and had to borrow heavily. In the end, the project cost almost US$24M.
Beepat’s contentions would be that he enjoyed very little concessions. He battled for everything, and paid his taxes. He would now have to compete heavily against MovieTowne, which apparently received the full works. Also, it has been revealed that Movie Towne misused concessions as well.
Based on Statia’s commitment to ensure a level playing field, soon enough, issued like these will be history for Guyana.
When addressing the PSC, Statia also stressed the need for all taxpayers to pull their own weight. He said that if this happens, and the tax based would be widened and tax could be reduced.
Statia said that he understands the role his agency has to play in all that he mentioned. He then spoke of efforts to strengthen the agency.
The Commissioner General said that the GRA is aiming to secure “quality service and client education that meet the needs of our diverse client base; Responsible enforcement of the laws based on the application of sound risk management, principles and practices and fair, impartial and timely redress processes.”
He continued, “Our sensitivity to the effects of administrative and legal requirements we must impose on clients and our efforts to ease the burden and cost of compliance; skilled, knowledgeable and professional staff, working in an environment that encourages and supports their personal and professional development; and the commitment to have an open, transparent and accountable administration.”
Statia said that the Government and the Ministry of Finance have committed GRA to meet the goals he mentioned.
He said that the evidence is there to see the numerous changes now enveloping the Agency, and the systems being put in place to streamline processes.
Statia said that the ASYCUDA system will be fully implemented in the first quarter of
2019, and the GRA will soon thereafter launch its Single Window system, which will act as a
precursor to the full Single Window system envisaged by the Ministry of Business.
“This fully automated and virtual paperless system will enhance Customs procedures and build on a new IT system presently being configured which will replace the flawed TRIPS system, thereby allowing for the seamless processing of business transactions, resulting in business leaders consolidating their efforts where it is required to be, that is, their businesses.
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