Sep 04, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – It was bound to happen, this fooling around for more profiteering by our importers (“GRA warns against cheating on waived freight taxes” KN September 1). The man doing the warning was Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Godfrey Statia. Included in his immediate audience are those identified in a GRA notice, which stated that, “some import companies have been manipulating the tax relief measures put in place to reduce and revert freight charges to pre-pandemic levels.” But there is so much more than fooling around for profit in the works here, and it underscores the unchanging nature of Guyana, no matter which government is in charge, and no matter what relief efforts are brought to bear, so that the struggling public can benefit. Rather, the bulk of the intended benefits are seized for themselves by private sector bandits, who pretend to be holier than thou, and exemplary in following new standards in place.
Let this much be dealt with: the private sector is corrupt, not all of it, but great big chunks of it. Think of this also: based on reports and word from reputable accountants and auditors, and others who are in the mix, there are huge sections in the private sector that are more blatantly corrupt than government. Now that is a significant thing to say, and in public, given how terribly corrupt one government following the other has been in this country. For parts of the private sector to be considered worse than crooked governments should tell us much of the comprehensive nature of pervasive corruption in this society, and in its every nook and cranny.
Here it is that the private sector, of which importing companies are a muscular subsection, is known to be a close ally of the current government, and the actions of some of its billion-dollar membership are sabotaging what the same government that it supported sets out to do. Here it is that freight charges are reduced by the PPP Government and its own people are cheating Guyanese of the intended benefits, and cheating the Treasury of much-needed revenues.
According to the GRA Commissioner General, importing companies are tampering with invoices to lower the total prices for imports, so that less taxes are assessed and paid. Some of these same importing companies will line themselves up to do business with AMCHAM entities, so that they are well-positioned to cheat Guyanese consumers and the Guyanese tax system some more. In addition, importing companies are employing another trick, as discovered by the GRA. These crooked companies, through their leaders and officers, are post-dating invoices, so that they pay the new lower relief rate, which the President recently announced. These are among the citizens who said that they were/are about the ideals of democracy. We will be blunt: they are about a certain kind of democracy, namely, one that allows them to get away with the equivalent of tax murders and tax arson, and rewards only them. They kill good intentions; they burn down provisions made to help both businesses and consumers. No! the importing companies want all for themselves.
First, they have been found to cheat the GRA. Next, they are sure to cheat, and may have started doing so already, Guyanese buyers and families who have their backs to the wall, through the ruthless assaults of a viral pandemic that is not going away anytime in the near future. Importing companies, maybe even down the line middlemen wholesalers, do so by not passing on the intended benefits via reduced prices. All Guyanese consumers are hurt by such importing company skullduggeries, private sector criminalities, and of which this is only one tip. From a political leadership perspective, any honest and caring one, this is embarrassing. For there is this irony of a PPP Government being hustled by PPP financial supporters.
The reductions announced by President Ali are significant, of which importing companies got the first bite and taste. The relief should be felt in the prices of numerous products, with retail businesses and the buying public noticing the eases, except that they are still to be felt. Clearly, cheating importing companies are getting all the bites and benefits, leaving little for other Guyanese.
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