Auditor General, Deodat Sharma has found that exemptions from duties and taxes in 2018 were significantly high. In fact, they represent more than 40 percent of the actual revenue collected by the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) in the same year.
In his latest report that captures the financial transgressions of the government, the Auditor General said that exemptions totalled $134.236 billion for the period under review, as compared to $64.312 billion in 2017. This he said represents an increase of $69.924 billion or 91.97% over the corresponding period. In addition, the guardian of the national purse said that the value of revenue foregone for the year 2018 represents 43.42% of the actual revenue collected by the Authority.
In a table attached to this news item, the official provided details of tax exemptions granted according to concession categories. By doing this, the Auditor General was able to show that tax exemptions granted to companies and businesses represented 90.11% or is equivalent to $104.763 billion of the total conditional exemptions granted.
He noted however that the total value of tax exemptions granted in respect of Investment Agreements facilitated through the Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest) and the Guyana Geology & Mines Commission (GGMC) could not have been determined. Sharma said that a review of the records of the Authority revealed that there were 280 agreements in which 241 agreements were approved, two processed, 36 cancelled and one sent for additional information during the year 2018. In response to similar finding for 2017, Sharma said assurance was given by the revenue authority that the IT Division was in the process of implementing a system that will facilitate a breakdown of the ‘Companies/Businesses’ category so that more informative reports can be generated.
In addition, the authority stated that the breakdown feature was implemented on April 17, 2018 to facilitate the value of tax exemption granted in respect of Investment Agreements through Go-Invest and GGMC. However, at the time of reporting in September, 2019, Sharma noted in his report that the Authority failed to provide evidence of these breakdowns.
The Head of the Authority, Godfrey Statia subsequently explained that the Authority’s IT Division had commenced the exercise of the implementation for the Breakout to capture the data requested. But due to several challenges, Statia said that this exercise was unsuccessful. It was further noted that efforts have been made through the ASYCUDA World Team to capture this information going forward.