After weeks of concerns from stakeholders surrounding the revelation of the Guyana Revenue Authority’s (GRA) staffing challenges, Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo addressed the issue, asserting that the Commissioner General, Godfrey Statia will personally take charge of the matter. Jagdeo said there will be no intervention from Cabinet.

Statia had initially revealed the GRA’s human resource shortage during a session of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). He explained to the committee that despite their continuous efforts to build capacity and oversee the local oil and gas industry, the tax agency has witnessed a substantial loss of trained personnel. He said that over the past year, at least five skilled accountants have departed from the agency, lured by the promise of higher salaries in the private sector.

During a recent press conference, Vice President Jagdeo clarified his stance, stating, “So I said to him (Statia), you need to deal with this matter yourself because the impression is created that somehow you need these people and the government is not supportive, and I have confirmed that you have never basically raised this matter with the Minister of Finance nor the President directly at the policy level.”

Jagdeo further revealed that the Commissioner had informed him that the vacant positions had been advertised both locally and internationally but that the remuneration expected by skilled auditors was “very high.” In response, Jagdeo suggested that this issue should be addressed if it hampers the agency’s operations.

According to Jagdeo, “He is going to deal with this matter, and the reason I want him at the technical level to deal with matters surrounding audit is that I made it clear that as politicians, we want to stay away from any issue dealing with audits.”

The Vice President emphasized that while the government is concerned about the extended timeline for completing the current oil audits, their primary focus remains on ensuring adherence to Local Content provisions. However, he made it unequivocal that the government would not intervene in the technical aspects of the audit process.

He concluded by mentioning that there are currently two pending audits of the Stabroek Block oil and gas activities. The first audit, initiated in 2019, aims to review ExxonMobil’s expenses totaling US$1.6 billion between 1999 and 2017. Simultaneously, another audit signed in 2022 for the oil company’s US$7.3 billion expenditure, accumulated between 2018 and 2020, is yet to reach its conclusion.


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