Fiscal jurist foresees Suriname’s inability t manage gold deals

(de Ware Tijd) PARAMARIBO – If Suriname does not involve a large international accounting firm in the gold deals, it risks losing the profits, since they will be taken abroad, says fiscal jurist Robby Makka.

The jurist expects Suriname to have a member on the board of the company now that it will buy itself a stake. However, no one should expect Suriname’s voice to have much weight because the Americans will field a battery of experts against one lightweight Surinamese expert. Suriname would need a super expert available 24/7 to have some control in order to avoid being overruled. The risks that the gold mining companies might siphon off profits are great. In the past that has happened with the bauxite companies.

Makka thinks that Suriname should have measures ready to prevent this from happening again by setting objective criteria, including those in models designed by national and international accountants’ organizations. He advises that in any case, Suriname should involve a large international accounting firm, for example KPMG, in this deal. Other organizations that could provide assistance include the Caricom’s audit office, the World Bank, the IMF and the Economic Commission of Latin American and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

Makka says the deal contains a number of loopholes. For example chapter 11, which deals with fiscal arrangements, is drafted in dated language and seems to benefit the investors. The wording is winding and it seems that the foreign investors are allowed many exemptions. Surinamese inspectors might never even find benefits for Suriname. Suriname does not have adequate experts to field against the investors. Makka is not sure the government and Revenue Service know what they are up against. In the past it did not go well with the bauxite companies.

The jurist expects inspectors to get very tempting offers without an anti-corruption Act in place. As a matter of fact, the following conditions are lacking: the anti-corruption law, the accountancy law, the investment law, and income tax reform, strengthening the Audit Office, the tax accounting service and the government accountancy bureau, and a mineral institute. All that had to be in place before the deals had been made.

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