By Kiana Wilburg
President David Granger is convinced that the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) will be able to audit Exxon’s US$900M pre-contract costs.
His confidence is predicated on statements made by GRA’s Commissioner General, Godfrey Statia. A few weeks ago, Statia had said that GRA has individuals who are capable of doing the audit. Granger also noted that GRA has been involved in a series of capacity building exercises.
At a press conference held yesterday at the Ministry of the Presidency, the Head of State said, “The Commissioner General has indicated that he has capacity. He feels he can undertake those audits… As of 2015, we did not have the requisite personnel in place to conduct reviews or audits of such a large industry and this is happening now. He (Statia) is training persons and recruiting people with the talent and I am convinced he is building capacity and we will be able to conduct that audit…”
Earlier this month, Statia had said that indeed, GRA has four individuals who can conduct the required audit. He said however, that it might be at the expense of other industries. Challenged to say if he is also capable of getting the job done, the Commissioner General and Chartered Accountant answered in the affirmative. Further to this, the tax chief was asked to say if the government has, at any time, approached his entity to carry out the audit, since the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) lacks the technical know-how and resources to do same.
Statia said, “We don’t have to be approached. We have already asked Exxon for certain information. They have so far been compliant in supplying information we have asked for…”
In May last, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) held a workshop with government ministers and other officials, warning them that one matter of priority is for GRA to move forward with preparations to effectively carry out cost audits. The Fund said that this is time-sensitive since the PSA introduces a “relatively short” two-year limit on the audit period.
Speaking to the Government’s deadline to carry out audits, ExxonMobil’s new head of Public Relations and Government Affairs, Deedra Moe, said, “The contract states that the government does have two years to audit costs incurred from the end of a year. We view Guyana as a partner, and we will work with the Government on timing on this and other reviews or audits.” Government has less than two months to audit the controversial US$900M pre-contract costs.
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