I would like to draw to your attention one deliberate attempt by your newspaper, particularly Stabroek Business to continually use the editorial (captioned ‘Fidelity’ 6.2.09) to further tarnish the image of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) in light of the report on the Customs/Fidelity probe.
Your editorial about the Commissioner-General, and constant repeating of the allegation about the GRA’s deliberate attempt to frustrate the work of the investigating team as stated in the Fidelity report, is seen as subjective and as a continuous attempt to taint the organization’s image.
Your paper should be more balanced in its reporting by carrying all sides with equal frequency, since the report also stated that when contacted, the Commissioner-General cooperated as far as was possible.
Further, the Commissioner-General in speaking with your newspaper did state that he offered his full support to the investigating team.
The Commissioner-General has always cooperated with the team throughout the investigation, and maintains that the team had to follow procedures in keeping with the rules of the organisation.
While no system is foolproof, the GRA is constantly working to reduce the probability of fraudulent occurrences. Systems are being tested and staff rotated to prevent over familiarity and root out corrupt practices wherever they are found.
Many of the issues addressed in the report are not new to us and systems have already been put in place.
The GRA is currently being transformed into a functional type organisation as it seeks to integrate all its operations to provide a more efficient service. Standard operational procedures are also being revamped to minimize revenue loss.
As you are aware from the budget presented in the National Assembly over the past year, the GRA has been exceeding its target and has performed beyond expectation. Revenue collection is a national issue and indeed the task transcends party politics and narrow issues which the Stabroek News seems to be engaged in.
Its negative reporting is seen as a deliberate attempt to be deleterious to the national interest and fails to recognize not only the serious nature of the work of the agency, but obviously failed to take into consideration the significant progress made by this institution of projecting a public image of fairness, transparency and professionalism through various activities conducted by the Internal Affairs Department and Public Relations Unit.
The various media policies and procedures concerning its operations that have been publicized and the irreplaceable fight against corruption that had plagued the entity over the years should not be swept under the mat.
I am therefore asking that you desist from having a field day by playing up one issue over and over to bring disrepute to the Commissioner-General and the GRA. This is a ploy to have persons read more into the issue than is there.
Senior Manager (ag)
The reference in the editorial to the efforts to “frustrate” the enquiry into the Fidelity fraud derived from the Auditor General’s report, which also cited a specific instance of that frustration involving the Commissioner-General of the GRA.