For years, the Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest) has been used by businesses to access billions of dollars worth in concessions, only to abuse them when granted. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Go-Invest Owen Verwey recently assured that his entity’s strict compliance mechanisms have been able to put a halt to this abuse.
But Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Godfrey Statia insists that the loopholes still exist. In fact, Statia revealed that the investment office does not conduct any financial analysis of businesses or their plans before recommending concessions.
In an interview with the Guyana Standard last week, Statia said that this burden is left on the revenue authority.
Statia said, “How can they be able to detect any breaches when they don’t do any financial analysis of companies and their business plans from the onset? All they do is recommend, recommend and recommend. Then they put in place a self compliance system…”
The tax chief added, “Go-Invest cannot do any financial analysis because they don’t have the skills there and they need to hire the people who are capable of doing this. If not, we will be doing their work and that is not fair to our authority. And I can tell you that a lack of financial analysis is already affecting them and us.”
In this regard, Statia pointed out that Go-Invest had recommended for a businessman to get a set of concessions for vehicles and equipment for a silica mining project. But Statia noted that as soon as the vehicles and equipment were acquired, it was sold off to a bauxite company.
“It was $200M worth of concessions. He breached his agreement and we had to go and seize all the vehicles and other things. We took him to court and we won. We didn’t get all but we were able to get about $80M to $90M. The point is, we lost out because of incompetence.”
Statia concluded that there is a need for the Guyana Office for Investment to improve its capabilities or risk making the same costly mistakes.