The Ministry of Finance in a Saturday afternoon statement said it has noted with absolute disgust, a report in another section of the media indicating that the government has hiked taxes on steel imports.
The article quoted Opposition Member of Parliament and the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee Irfaan Ali as saying that “Finance Minister Winston Jordan circulated on Wednesday a correspondence with [sic] brokers and other relevant stakeholders, indicating that the tariff (taxes) charged for the importation of steel into Guyana would be doubled, since it has been increased from five per cent to 10 per cent.”
In its statement, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said it “categorically rejects this accusation and wishes to make clear that the Minister of Finance, Hon. Winston Jordan, has not circulated any correspondence indicating any increase in tariffs for the importation of steel. MOF also wishes to make clear that there has been no increase in the tariffs associated with the importation of steel.”
According to the Finance Ministry, the fact of the matter is that the Quality Review Section of the Guyana Revenue Authority, which is responsible for examining Customs Declarations for valuation, classification and volume discrepancies, identified anomalies in relation to the importation of alloy steel by several businesses in Guyana. After a review of the evidence presented, together with the Chapter Notes of the Common External Tariff (CET) and Explanatory Notes, it was determined that most of the Tariff Headings applicable to the type of steel commonly imported would attract a rate of import duty of 10%, instead of 5%.
It said that under the circumstances, “it is mindboggling that Mr. Ali could engage in such dishonesty.”
“This can only be interpreted as an attempt to create unfounded hysteria within the business community to score cheap political points and impugn the integrity of the Hon. Minister of Finance. MOF would like to urge Mr. Ali to set aside his misguided crusade against the Minister of Finance and apprise himself of the facts relevant to the issues on which he engages his supporters.”
The Ministry said importers who wish to contest the alloy content of the imported steel and the duties applied by the Customs Department could use the usual channels, including appeals to the Commissioner General, GRA and the Customs Tribunal.