Sarah Fernandes, a 14-year-old fourth form student of the North West Secondary School, Region One is the winner of the national level Caribbean Organisation for Tax Administrators (COTA) 5th Essay Competition 2017.
According to a release yesterday from the Guyana Revenue Authority, Fernandes’ essay on the topic “If I were the head of my country’s Tax Administra-tion, what would I do to increase tax revenues to fund the Govern-ment’s development program-mes?” was impressive enough to earn her 98 out of 100 marks.
She, along with twenty-five other students from schools across the country and their Caribbean counterparts, vied for the top honours after the competition was launched in March 2017. Participating schools were required to submit three essays (800-1000 words) on the abovementioned topic.
The release said that submissions were required of students grades 9-11 and marked for knowledge and understanding of the tax administration function, the country’s tax structure and current modernisation factors, relevance and depth of research, argument, ingenuity of ideas and use of examples/ illustrations, proper grammar and punctuation. The evaluation was done by a panel of senior officers from the Guyana Revenue Authority which then submitted the finalists to COTA for entries at the regional leg of the competition. Fernandes, along with Naiome Bacchus of St. Joseph High and Crystal Wills of Queen’s College won the first, second and third prizes respectively. They receiv-ed honours at a simple ceremony at Cara Lodge on Thursday, October 12, 2017.
The first-prize trophy was presented to Fernandes by Com-missioner-General of the GRA, Godfrey Statia. Prizes and certificates were also distributed by Deputy Commissioner-General Hema Khan, Head of Law Enforcement and Investigation Fitzroy Corlette, CARICOM Representative Fiona West and Senior Education Officer Carol Benn.
Statia said the initiative by COTA must be applauded as it provides the opportunity for introducing youths to taxation and also allows the GRA to garner feedback about the youths’ perception of taxation.
“The entrants’ interests reveal that there may be the need to include taxation as part of the education curriculum,” the Commissioner-General said.