GRA miffed at SN reports on tax study

The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has criticized as irresponsible the recent publication in this newspaper of the contents of a draft report on the review of the tax system, which was prepared under the US-funded Guyana Threshold Country Plan Implementation Project (GTCP/IP).

In a press release on Monday, the GRA called it an act of “sensationalism”.
According to the GRA “draft reports should not be taken and published wholesale, rather they should be analysed, since there is the likelihood of errors, especially where figures may be amplified.” It added that “given the date of the report, it would be good to note what progress was made since it was penned.”

The release stated that “attempts should have been made to find out from the GRA if steps were taken to strengthen enforcement and improve compliance since the draft was submitted.” The GRA said that since the author of the article was unclear of government’s response to the draft report much care should have been taken in publicizing it. However, the release added that  it seems as if the intention was to have a field day and embarrass the government and the GRA, and undermine revenue collection. “It gives a false impression of the GRA which can affect the organization as well as the morale of the staff. The GRA views such an approach as irresponsible and completely inconsistent with the practice of responsible journalism by knowledgeable professionals,” the release said.

The release added that “in conjunction with the publication of various aspects of the draft of the ‘Review of the Tax System’ it must be noted that since the commencement of the project in January 2008, the GRA has made significant progress in moving toward a functional organization.”It added that under the two-year project, which began on January 14, 2008; the GRA’s Governing Board and the Commissioner-General had already taken steps to improve the organisation’s efficiency in administration and tax collections.

Stabroek News Editor-in-Chief Anand Persaud said the publication of the findings of the draft report was perfectly acceptable, more so since the government has not indicated publicly if it has responded to the draft even though the report was submitted since November last year. Persaud added that the GRA statement that Stabroek News should have enquired from the agency whether any steps had been taken to bolster enforcement and compliance since the draft was presented was puzzling. He said the whole objective of having such reports presented was to indicate what shortcomings existed and how these had affected performance. Whether changes were implemented was supplemental to the findings. Persaud said the government and the GRA now have the opportunity to publicise their response to the draft report.

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