The Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority, Khurshid Sattaur believes that the agency is on its way to another record breaking year in tax collection. In a statement issued on Friday, Sattaur described as “epic”, the performance of the GRA under his stewardship.
According to the GRA, under Sattaur’s twelve years at the helm of the revenue collection agency, it has seen “the phenomenal growth of revenue collection from $41.5 Billion in 2003 to a record-breaking of in excess of $126.5 Billion, representing over 205 % increase.”
The statement added that notable among the increase is the revenue performance of Corporate Taxes and PAYE taxes which have seen in excess of 206 % and 60% increase respectively over these years.
“These phenomenal increases in the area of revenue collection of the agency have been as a result of the direct targeting of private sector businesses for false declaration in their imports and in the inaccurate reporting of their income detected through the highly effective work conducted by the Revenue Protection and Audit and Verification Units which, on an annual basis, rake in excess of 2.5 Billion in additional revenues”, Sattaur said.
The GRA boss also pointed out that revenues are being garnered from many private sector businesses that continue to withhold the payment of their taxes or that of their employees or vat payers, even though such payments were due and even in some cases as their returns suggest, such payments were made.
He said tax collection in those areas are responsible for the collection of in excess of $5 Billion in taxes every year.
According to Mr. Sattaur, “it is to be noted that while on an annual basis no new taxes are introduced and, quite on the contrary, the rates of taxes have been reduced in respect of the two major revenue categories, personal income tax and corporate taxes down from 33 1/3 % to 30% ; and 45% and 35% to 40% and 30 %respectively, and economic growth did not exceed more than on average 6% percentage points annually, yet the average increase of the revenues has shown a remarkable performance of over 11 % on an annual basis reflecting increasing levels of performance year after year.”
He however admitted that it is no secret that, increasingly “there is a high frequency in which private sector businesses offer bribes to tax officers not to unveil their fraudulent reporting; and more alarming is the fact that billions are granted in concessions to business in the area of machinery and equipment and raw materials that are either diverted for other purposes or sold to persons who are not entitled to such benefits.”
The Guyana Revenue Authority has come under increasing criticism for not effectively tackling alleged cases of corruption within the body.
But the Commissioner General said his organisation spends millions of its resources which he described as “scarce”, as well as the “officers’ valuable time every year to police such criminal activities.”
Sattaur also raised worry about the reported move by some business owners not to charge the value added tax on their products and services. In many of those cases, the business owners would not issue receipts and therefore be able to evade the tax.
The Commissioner General believes that there is a strong correlation of corruption in the Agency with incidence of aiding and abetting by the Private sector which is responsible for a significant loss in revenues.
Mr. Sattaur said he plans to remain focused on collecting the government’s money and ensuring that his agency does its job.
Filed: 7th December, 2014