The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) wants the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) to investigate and provide a full report on the alleged removal and subsequent return of two vehicles from a private warehouse at Eccles, East Bank of Demerara.
The Auditor General has pointed out in his 2016 report that during a physical inspection of the warehouse back in April 2016, it was revealed that two vehicles listed in the register were not found in the warehouse.
The Auditor General further noted that there was no evidence that the vehicles were released by the Guyana Revenue Authority from the warehouse operated by Car Care. But during a subsequent visit 12 days later the two vehicles were returned.
The Auditor General’s office claimed that there was an officer from GRA present during both visits and he could be called on to verify that the vehicles were absent during the first visit but returned during the second visit.
The PAC was initially alarmed by the revelations but became more startled when it was disclosed that the GRA did not have a report on the matter and the warehouse’s owner was not sanctioned in anyway.
Deputy Head of Customs Excise and Trade Operations, Patrick Hyman, told the Committee that he was informed of the missing vehicles, but claimed when GRA visited the location the next day the vehicles were found.
There are no cameras at the warehouse and the Auditor General could only verify that the vehicles were there when he returned 12 days later.
Mr. Hyman claimed that the warehouse owner was called in and warned. During that meeting, the owner was also threatened with a revocation of license if such an incident occurs in the future.
But PAC member, Juan Edghill believes that the action taken was inadequate, particularly when GRA had reported earlier that it had revoked five warehouses where vehicles and equipment could not be physically be verified.
Edghill questioned why this was not done in this case but was told by Mr. Hyman that the warehouse holder denied that the warehouse had been inappropriately accessed and the vehicles had been removed.
“How are we to know that those cars were not used in the commissioning of a crime, using fake number plates, and returned to the warehouse…. It’s like a prisoner leaving prison to commit a crime and returning so that he can’t be held accountable,” Edghill exclaimed.
He was backed up by Committee Chair, Irfaan Ali, who told the Authority that the answers being provided in this matter were inadequate.
“This doesn’t smell nice, we have to call it what it is and this doesn’t smell nice,” Ali added, as he demanded a full investigation and report into the matter.
Both GRA and the owner have access to the warehouse where remedial security measures were undertaken at the expense of the owner.
Ali was forced to discontinue the session with the GRA and asked that the officials from the Authority return in two weeks. (by Kurt Campbell)