Guyana is facing a number of setbacks in its quest to build a robust oil and gas sector. One of them includes finding and hiring technically competent individuals who will be able to identify the tax avoiding tricks of oil companies.
Employing those who are versed in the language of the oil and gas underworld will call for some very fine-looking payment packages. Guyana, a developing country with huge budget constraints may not be able to afford such packages.
In an interview with The Guyana Standard, Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Godfrey Statia, said he is painfully aware of the fact that GRA can be affected by its budget constraints as it prepares to staff its Oil and Gas Unit.
The Commissioner General stated, “I am aware that many are worried about whether ExxonMobil or any oil company here would be able to cheat the tax administration system. They worry about what tax havens would be used and so forth. With the right people, these things can be caught early. But the problem we face is that we don’t have those high-powered people with us.”
Statia continued, “I am one who can do the work, but there are only so many things I can do here. Bringing competent staff from around the world will mean putting forward a good pay. We have lost good staff because of pay. We lost staff to the Civil Aviation Authority and even the Cheddi Jagan International Airport because of issues with pay. With budget cuts on a continual basis, you can’t upgrade as you would like.”
The GRA Commissioner General told The Guyana Standard that the Authority is sitting on a goldmine and with competent staff, billions more could be collected annually.
That said, the GRA Commissioner General said that GRA’s contribution to Guyana through its assessments of the oil and gas industry can be hampered by budgeting constraints. He concluded, “That can mean a lot in the grand scheme of things.”