The GRA is cognizant of a video being circulated on social media leveling malicious, reckless and baseless allegations against some of its Senior Officers.
The GRA wishes to vehemently dismiss this sinister plot aimed at besmirching the character and good name of these officers and would like to advise the general public on the mentioned issues as follows:
Investigation into the Detention of Motor Vessel President
1. In April 2021, the referenced vessel was indeed detained by the Coast Guard and handed over to the GRA for investigation into, inter alia, breaches of the Customs Act, Chapter 82:01.
2. Recognizing the possible protractive nature of court proceedings, compounded with the fact, that the parties in this transaction were first time offenders, the GRA in keeping with its mandate of optimization of revenue collection, simultaneously facilitated discussions with the Attorney-at-Law representing the owners of the vessel and fuel on a proposed settlement and instituted proceedings for the breaches of the Customs Act, Chapter 82:01;
3. A proposed settlement was initially offered by the Attorney which was rejected by the GRA. In return, the counter settlement offered by the GRA was not accepted by the Attorney-at-Law and as such, proceedings continued in the Magistrate Court;
4. In July 2021, the Attorney-at-Law once again engaged the GRA to settle this matter in lieu of proceedings and a consensus was reached and agreed upon by all parties involved. Details of the proposed settlement were shared with the policy makers/Government of Guyana on the way forward. However, to date the agreed settlement was not honoured by the owners of the vessel and fuel.
5. This matter is in progress before the courts and upon its finalization, additional details may be provided, given that the GRA is bound by confidentiality of taxpayers’ information. Further, matters before the court are subjected to public scrutiny and its progress can easily be ascertained. Notwithstanding, the GRA is still pursuing the court proceedings in the event a settlement is not achieved.
1. This policy is decades old and is properly administered in accordance with the laws as approved by the Government of Guyana.
2. Specifically, Section 230 of the Customs Act, Chapter 82:01 provides that, “the Commissioner-General may, with the approval of the Minister, reward any person who informs him of any offence against the customs laws or assists in the recovery of any fine or penalty…”
3. This simply means that once the information provided results in the successful recovery of fines or penalties, the whistleblower shall be rewarded with a sum equivalent to 10% of all fines recovered from the seizure of the uncustomed, prohibited or restricted goods as approved by the Government of Guyana.
4. Importantly, the method of payment along with the required procedures were thoroughly scrutinized and approved by the Office of the Auditor-General along with the Competent Authority, required under the Laws of Guyana.
5. The Whistleblower policy which was properly approved and sanctioned by the Government of Guyana continues to be properly administered by the GRA and has led to the recovery of billions of dollars in revenue over the years.
6. As such, the GRA wishes to encourage members of public to continue to provide information on smuggling and tax evasion activities, which could stymie the growth and development of our country.
Alleged Smuggling in Lethem
1. The GRA wishes to remind members of the public that the borders between Guyana and Brazil remains closed in keeping with Government policy. This is not an action taken by the GRA. In any event, temporary approval is granted for its re-opening, with the exception of alcohol, tobacco, motor vehicles, fuel, arms and ammunition, all other goods imported and consumed within the defined area shall not be taxable.
In closing, the GRA takes this opportunity to remind its employees that disclosure of confidential information would not be condoned and anyone found culpable would be dealt with to the fullest extent of the laws.
On the other hand, members of the public are also urged to be more responsible and desist from making malicious, baseless and reckless allegations aimed at besmirching the character and good name of our Officers.