The Irfaan Ali-led regime should order a probe into the alleged misuse of concessions by Chinese companies operating in Guyana, the Chairman of Giftland Group of Companies, Roy Beepat, has recommended.
The Businessman said that reports have already been made to the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) Commissioner, Godfrey Statia, and the former Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, about a Chinese company, China Harbour – the company working on the multibillion-dollar Cheddi Jagan international Airport (CJIA) project – allegedly using its duty-free status illegally to import building materials and fuel supplies for the MovieTown (MT) project.
The Businessman said that the Giftland Mall has paid all duties and taxes on its construction, and if the same was not done by MT, then it signals an “unfair advantage”.
“Many truckers had informed us that fuel brought to the airport were subsequently transported to the MT site, this was also true of other building materials. Had GRA wanted to, this could have been easily verified [by] just match[ing] the duty, VAT (Value-added Tax) and other taxes on the MT project, against the contractor Bill of Quantities and ask them to produce the custom entries showing these were paid. If these cannot be produced, then it becomes clear that the MT project was built with an unfair advantage either to the Giftland Mall by cheaper construction cost and to GRA by waiver of duties in the amount of billions of dollars of unpaid taxes,” Beepat said.
The businessman said that despite complaints in the past, no investigation was done. He hopes that a probe can be ordered by the Ali administration into this matter. Until then, all projects being conducted by Chinese companies should be put on pause.
“The Giftland Group looks forward under this new Administration for this investigation to be conducted. Also, until China Harbor fulfill the terms and conditions of the original CJIA Contract, I strongly urge that all projects from China State companies be put on hold, this rape of our nation should not be tolerated,” he said.
It was President Ali, a few weeks ago during a visit to the CJIA facility, who upbraided the Chinese company for dragging its feet on the project. He lambasted the contractor; saying that Guyana deserves better. He called for the project to be completed with alacrity, and that the facility be handed over to the Guyanese people. The expansion of the airport was slated to be completed in less than three years, however, six years after works commenced, completion is nowhere in sight, with billions of dollars above the estimated cost already expended to date.
Beepat said that Ali’s stance on the matter is applaudable and hopes that the same attention can be given to the company’s alleged misuse of concessional provisions on the MT project.