Civil society grouping, Article 13 has written President Irfaan Ali requesting the release of information on taxes paid by the state on behalf of Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) and its partners, under the 2016 Petroleum Sharing Agreement (PSA).
Under the 2016 PSA, the Government is expected to pay taxes on behalf of the subsidiary of ExxonMobil, and its partners – CNOOC Petroleum Guyana Limited and Hess Guyana Exploration Limited.
However, Article 13 is of the opinion that while the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has issued receipts indicating that those taxes were paid, there is no record of such payment in the financial statements of the Natural Resource Fund.
“We understand that the Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority has issued receipts and certificates under the said Article 15.4 and 15.5 but the National Estimates and the financial statements of the Natural Resource Fund do not reflect such payments. specifically, paragraph (b) of 15.4 require that those taxes be paid out of Guyana’s share of profit oil,” Article 13 explained in the letter to President Ali.
The letter dated September 19, 2022 was signed by Article 13’s Representative Jonathan Yearwood.
Mr. Yearwood explained that it is important for the country’s financial records to be set straight.
Against that background, he requested that the relevant information be released by the Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority, Godfrey Statia.
“The purpose of this letter therefore is to respectfully request that you authorise the Commissioner General, under the authority given to your Excellency under section 4 of the Income Tax Act, to provide to us particulars of the payments made or provided for on behalf of the oil companies in the years 2020, 2021 and for 2022 to date,” a section of the read.
Last week, Article 13 accused the Auditor General, Deodat Sharma of failing to audit the 2021 financial statements of the Natural Resources Fund in accordance with the Natural Resource Fund Act.
It said based on comparative analysis done by local and international professional accountants, taxes paid by the Natural Resources Minister, Vickram Bharrat, on behalf of Esso, Hess and CNOOC, were not properly accounted for.
“The financial statements of the NRF for the year 2021, and comparative for 2020, show no withdrawals were made from the Fund for the taxes payable by the oil companies for the year 2020, estimated at more than G$20 billion. It was therefore, inappropriate and incorrect for the Auditor General to issue a “clean” audit opinion on the financial statements of the Fund for either or both years,” Audit 13 explained.
But on Monday, the Auditor General told News Source that his office merely conducted an audit of the finances injected into the Natural Resources Fund in 2021 for the oil lifts as it does not currently have the capacity to do more.