In the last two months, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has released information from the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) which seem to indicate that the agency is either failing to put tighter controls in place or is assisting in the abuse of its systems for the mere benefit of persons connected to the government. In some instances, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo would reveal such confidential information from GRA at his weekly press conferences. In one case, the official had access to GRA information which said that a vehicle that was seized ended up in the hands of a government supporter.

But the Commissioner-General of the tax authority, Godfrey Statia, has since expressed disappointment with Jagdeo’s behaviour in this regard. Speaking at a recent interview with radio announcer Stan Gouveia on the programme called the Hot Seat, Statia categorically stated that despite the attacks from Jagdeo, there is no “tit-for-tat” between him and the former president. He noted, however, that the Opposition Leader needs to desist aiding and abetting GRA officials who are bringing him records that are supposed to be confidential.

Being a former Finance Minister and Head of State, Statia said that Jagdeo ought to know and do better. He bemoaned the fact that Jagdeo has been accepting the confidential information and using it to further his own political agenda.

“So I take offence to that and I think he should show some amount of maturity,” the tax chief said.

The Commissioner-General further stated that Jagdeo needs to do what is right and file his tax returns. Statia said that the tax laws are very clear, in that it categorically states that everyone must file their income taxes. “The law states that everyone should file their taxes by April 30, not everyone except the president and those of the past,” added the official.

In addition to this, Statia noted that under Section 23 (3) of the Revenue Authority Act, he is empowered to take legal action against Jagdeo.

That Section of the Act states, “If any person having information which to his knowledge has been published or disclosed in contravention of subsection (1) unlawfully publishes or communicates any such information to any other person, he shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable, upon conviction, to a fine not exceeding $100,000 and to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years.”

On this note, Statia said that if he is to initiate legal action against Jagdeo during these times, he would be accused of political witch-hunting. However, the Commissioner-General stressed that the law is clear on what is required of the ordinary man as well as the politicians. He stressed that the leaders of the day need to be more accountable.


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