Guyana Revenue Authority Commissioner-General Khurshid Sattaur has been sent on leave, a statement from the board’s Chairman Rawle Lucas said today.
The statement follows:
“The Governing Board of Directors of the Guyana Revenue Authority today Thursday December 17 took a unanimous decision to send Commissioner General Kurshid Sattaur on vacation leave with immediate effect to facilitate an upcoming comprehensive audit of the agency by a reputable international firm.
Mr. Sattaur who has been Commissioner General for the past 12 years has accumulated vacation leave time of more than 200 days and has been ordered to proceed immediately on leave while authorities organize for the audit of the Authority.
Acting Deputy Commissioner Ingrid Griffith will act in the position during the period.”
Last month, Lucas had told Stabroek News that the Government of Guyana was preparing the terms of reference for an auditor external to Guyana to examine the operations of the GRA.
The audit which is expected to begin early in the new year is an initiative of the Ministry of Finance which has garnered the full support of the GRA’s Board of Directors.
Lucas had noted then that while he had not seen the report of a recent audit conducted by the government audit department he does know that the “government has indicated that it wants to bring an external auditor to do a complete audit of GRA.”
This auditor is not only to be “external to GRA but external to Guyana,” Lucas said.
The reason for such a decision lies in the acknowledgement that many Guyanese auditors “might be biased in one way or another since they will have some relationship with GRA whether positive or negative.”
According to Lucas this relationship could result in a conflict of interest for local auditors.
Lucas shared his opinion that the GRA is the most important government institution outside of the presidency since it is the entity charged with collecting the resources that the government uses for its development programmes and for operational purposes.
“It is important for us as the general public to have an idea of how well the entity is being run and how well the resources of the entity are being managed by those responsible for same,” he said.
He further explained that “it is almost 15 years since GRA has been in existence and with the change in government I think it is very good for the people to have an appreciation of what the new government is being asked to managed and by the time their term of office is over they will be in a better position to make a better evaluation of the stewardship of the new administration.”
While he believes that “in that sense alone the audit is valuable” Lucas noted that as a matter of “good governance and management practice it is always good to have frequent independent audits so that the nation as a whole can feel satisfied that the money it is giving to the government could be properly accounted for.”