The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) is blaming poor storage for its inability to produce several tax exemption files which were specifically requested by Auditor General, Deodat Sharma, during a routine audit of the Authority back in 2016.
However, the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee is not satisfied with the explanation provided by GRA’s Deputy Commissioner General, Ms. Hema Khan.
A team from the Authority appeared before the Parliamentary Committee on Monday to provide a brief on the action taken in keeping with recommendations in the Auditor General 2016 Report.
But the GRA is reporting that it is still looking for several outstanding tax exemption files that were requested by the AG in April 2016.
The AG had reported that a total of 63 tax exemption files were not presented for audit but later 35 scanned copies were printed and submitted, leaving a total of 18 outstanding files that remain unaccounted.
The missing files covers tax exemptions that were granted prior to April 2016.
The Deputy Commissioner General said the Authority has a “space problem” which was affecting storage of files.
Khan said the Authority was able to locate some of the files, but several others cannot be located.
She said GRA had been forced to rent space in another building to cater to its storage needs and even invited the PAC to visit GRA to have a first-hand look at the situation.
Files are usually placed in boxes and stored wherever space is available, Khan related.
Committee Chair Irfaan Ali was not pleased with the explanation given. “We cannot accept storage as, I don’t want to say excuse, but we cannot accept that for not presenting the files to the AG. The last time we were invited to visit a drug bond we didn’t find not one tablet,” he said.
The Committee admonished the GRA team that its files should be seen as its most important asset and should be safely stored where they can be easily retrieved.
Ms. Khan assured the Committee that steps were being taken to improve the situation and the Authority has begun scanning files before they are moved to storage.
She was asked whether a similar situation existed with tax payers’ information to which she assured that there was a system in place that works well for the storage of tax payers’ information.
It was recommended that he Administration put systems in place to ensure that there is adequate accountability for tax exemption files so that these are produced for audit in a timely manner.