There is no mountain high enough, or no valley low enough to stop Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Godfrey Statia, from going after any tax data belonging to USA oil conglomerate, ExxonMobil.
The tax chief made this pellucid as he firmly stated, “It is our right to know! It is our right to audit and nothing is going to stop that! Not while I am here.”
He was at the time responding to concerns regarding a clause in the Guyana-ExxonMobil agreement. That clause sees the Government of Guyana agreeing to relinquish all rights to go after documents in relation Exxon’s operations here but which are held outside of the country.
The agreement says, “Nothing herein shall entitle the Minister or his auditors to have access to data and records which: I) are subject to statutory restrictions on disclosure or ii) do not relate to petroleum operations; or iii) are not customarily disclosed in auditing practice in the international petroleum industry…”
Upon reading this section to Statia, he laughed heartily. He subsequently commented, “The true cost of their operations here is what we want and we will utilize all bilateral agreements for the exchange f information. We have made this known to Exxon. We have been telling ExxonMobil about the information they should have been giving us. And so far, there has been no issue…”
Statia said, too, that based on the tax information he has been receiving from the American multinational, there has been a need to improve auditing skills in certain areas.
The tax chief said, “Training is set to commence with several officials already earmarked to go to Trinidad and Tobago and England. Help is being provided by the USA’s Overseas Technical Assistance (OTA) group. The Group will be bringing some retired employees of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). They will be coming to school our people in the area of oil and gas and what to look for. We have also put out some ads in the newspapers for interested, qualified persons to join the team…”