GRA says transparency at heart of its operations

The GRA today said transparency and accountability are at the heart of its operations.
It was responding to a report in the Kaieteur News of March 2 quoting APNU executive, Carl Greenidge.

The GRA press release follows:

The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has a proven track-record of transparency, accountability and commitment to its constitutional mandate of administering the tax law and promoting voluntary compliance among the taxpaying public.

Ever so often however, the integrity of the Authority and its officers is questioned, sometimes unfairly and maliciously by sections of the media and politically persuaded critics whose only motive is to do irreparable harm.

While at times the GRA may be persuaded to take a defensive stance, it remains focused on the goal of revenue collection and does not intend to be sidetracked by any unwarranted public attention.

Over the fifteen years that the GRA has been in operation, revenue collection has increased phenomenally, evidence that the GRA has been on the right track, targeting the key areas relevant to improving tax collection and removing the bottlenecks hindering the process.

The evidence also suggests that there have been carefully crafted decisions at the level of the Commissioner-General Mr Khurshid Sattaur and the Deputy Commissioner-General Clem Sealey who answer to a Governing Board which comprises members of the Public Sector, Governor, Accounting General, Director of Budget, Chief Planning Officer and Chief of Statistics etc.

In recent years a number of initiatives were undertaken with taxpayers’ and the GRA’s integrity in mind. Simplified procedures for clearing personal effects, alternative payment options such as internet banking and extended working hours at certain periods of the year have promoted efficiency and convenience for taxpayers. The Random Selection of Commercial Imports for one hundred percent manual examination has also ruled out speculation about favouritism in the goods examination process with members of the public being actively involved in the exercise.

On a regular basis, taxpayers continue to be engaged by a proactive Tax Advisory and Public Relations Department which disseminates information about the importance of compliance. Recently, a series of tax sensitization workshops were hosted for self-employed persons on the requirements for preparation of financial statements, deductions allowed and expenses to be claimed, correct preparation and completion of Tax Returns, record-keeping among other areas, to better prepare them for the submission of their Employers Returns.

Supplementing this effort has been weekly television and radio broadcasts, notices and releases in the print media by the Public Relations Department that seek to build better relations between the GRA and the taxpaying public.

Meanwhile an aggressive Law Enforcement and Investigation Division (LEID) has been going after smugglers who seek to evade taxes and defraud the state of revenue. The effort has been challenging but continues to engage the GRA’s attention.

Internally, operations of all departments in the GRA are examined on a daily basis by the Internal Audit division to ensure that the clearly outlined Standard Operational Procedures (SOPs) are followed. The divisions comprise professionals knowledgeable about planning, execution and investigations.

In light of the foregoing the GRA finds rather vague and misleading a recent Kaieteur News Article in which APNU’s Shadow Minister of Finance Carl Greenidge named the GRA among other state entities that are “agents of financial lawlessness.” The article published on March 2 has a very glaring headline but failed in the attempt to support such an accusation.

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