While the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) seems to be making strides in improving its tax collection efforts, many financial analysts remain disappointed with the fact that some public officials with unexplained wealth are still escaping the authority’s tax net.
Specifically making this comment today was Chartered Accountant and Oil and Gas Academic, Chris Ram. For this attorney-at-law, GRA has to prove that it is not going to continue to take “the easy way out by employing amnesties and fighting a few tax cases in the court.”
The Chartered Accountant said, “Yes, going after the people who owe you a couple million dollars is alright but when will (GRA’s Commissioner General, Godfrey) Statia go after those who robbed the treasury and fattened their bank accounts? When will we see real efforts at arresting tax evasion? Statia has got to do more on this issue.”
Ram also said that when public officials with unexplained wealth are being dealt with, legal procedures must be incorporated into that process.
The lawyer said, “I am an advocate for due process; that is why I am saying to you that we must show respect for the laws and procedures governing how we must go about this process. Even though I know some of them stole, I can’t just advise that they be locked up without due process or their properties seized and bank accounts put on hold… And we have to be careful that it does not look like they are unjustly going after one set of people.”
Ram stressed that it is not PPP officials alone who have to explain their wealth. He emphasized that the Integrity Commission Act lists the persons who are required to file their financial returns.
“Let them all be made to lay their cards on the table. Investigate all of them,” added the tax specialist.