Diagnostic study by IMF on GRA done after Commissioner-General came to office

Dear Editor,

In the Sunday, December 17 edition of the Kaieteur News, an article was published titled ‘GRA fails to monitor extent of false reporting by local businesses.’ The content of this article was attributed to a recent report prepared by the IMF. This article was subsequently followed by a letter published on December 20, penned by Tameshwar Lilmohan. This letter under the caption ‘IMF’s scathing report reveals worrying concerns about GRA’s administration’, contained excerpts from Mr Lilmohan’s presentation which was made during his interview for the position of Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority.

The Authority wishes to advise as follows:

The Commissioner General assumed office on July 25, 2016. Thereupon, he requested from CARTAC that a diagnostic study should be done at the GRA to determine the state of affairs of the Authority, and what needs to be done to improve the Authority’s tax system. In September 2016, CARTAC alerted that such a service (TADAT) was available through the IMF. The IMF did its TADAT assessment and in its report of May 2017 outlined the GRA’s main strengths and weaknesses. The strengths included the following:

.highly qualified cadre of staff

.extensive information available to taxpayers through a variety of channels

.withholding and advance payment mechanism in place

.independent graduated dispute resolution mechanism

.strong external oversight mechanisms

The weaknesses highlighted were:

.no-segment based management of taxpayers

.functional limitations of the IT system,\

.limited e-transaction system; lack of strategic and structured risk management approach

.weak filing and payment compliance

.de-centralised audit case selection process

.absence of legislative tax rulings system

.compliance improvement programme limited in scope and content.

Upon the receipt of the said report, a request was made for a follow-up study to advise on the next steps in modernizing the Authority. This assessment was done in September 2017, and a draft report was submitted in October 2017. Suffice to say that most of the recommendations made by the team were either already a work in progress, or envisaged to be implemented during 2018 and beyond. Like in the TADAT report quoted from by the Kaieteur News, this final report will be made available when released.

The Commissioner General has re-iterated on numerous occasions the inherited sorry state of the GRA, foremost being bribery, collusion and corruption, the lack of proper IT systems, infrastructure and training. He has repeatedly stated that it may take as much as five years to meet international standards. The areas raised in both articles are but a few of the issues he has tackled since his employment seventeen months ago.

It is hoped that this response clears up any misconceptions that were created as a result of the article and letter which were published.

Yours faithfully,

Melissa Baird

Manager Public Relations Unit

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