Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) Khurshid Sattaur has been sternly criticized for his “lack of professionalism” in handling the country’s tax affairs by Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo.
During a Sunday morning interview on the local radio programme “Hard Talk”, The Prime Minister stayed clear of recommending Sattaur’s dismissal but reasoned that the public criticism over his stewardship of GRA coupled with his selective exposure of tax information may have been warranted.
“You’re dealing with the efficacy of public funds, you’re collecting the people’s money and you’re holding the people’s purse. If you desecrate the high office and you demean the function that you hold, then I would expect that you didn’t need the axe to fall, you should go,” the Prime Minister Nagamootoo said during the interview.
He also noted that while persons may feel that Sattaur and other public office holders may have committed infractions against the Guyanese public and should be removed from office, there is a procedure which must be followed.
Last week, former Parliamentarian and outspoken APNU member, James Bond said Sattaur should have been immediately fired after the APNU+AFC won the May 11 elections. Bond said the GRA boss was a “failure” and had he been the President or Prime Minister he would have relieved him of his duties.
The vexed GRA boss responded, saying he has every reason to believe those calls are charged with malice and vendetta and accused bond of having a problem with him because he intervened in a matter a few years ago involving Bond and documents for a motorcycle that was imported by someone else.
His response in this case along with many others is what the Prime Minister is concerned about. “If you go after people the way that I read you are going after James Bond you are bringing disrepute to your office,” Nagamootoo said.
He added that the GRA boss needs to understand that he holds a high public office and must be subject to the review and criticism of the members of the public. “You can’t use your office to recriminate someone because they criticized you. If Bond had done something that created an infraction of the law there is clearly a legal course… you call the police in. The fact that you sat on it and didn’t do anything it means you condone it and selectively you use it against the person, because the person has been critical of you.”
James Bond had responded to Sattaur’s statement and said he never imported any motorcycle but was buying the bike from someone else when he realized that it had outstanding taxes. He said the outstanding taxes were paid and he never had any contact with Sattaur on the issue.
Prime Minister Nagamootoo said he now fears that his criticisms of Sattuar could cause him to “go and dig something to see if he has a file on Nagamootoo.
The Prime Minister warned the GRA Commissioner General that “you can do that Sattaur. You are dealing with Moses Nagamootoo here. You know I will never be intimidated.”