The PPP yesterday said that the manner in which a boat held with undeclared fuel is being handled is unacceptable and points to ties between the principals of the vessel and the government.
The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) detained the fuel boat pending the payment of some $36M in taxes, Commissioner General Godfrey Statia on Tuesday said while informing that the 200, 000 gallons of petroleum that was aboard was undeclared and checks are now being made to ascertain if it was being smuggled into the country.
“We have boarded the vessel until such time as the taxes have been paid. What happened is that we recognized that the fuel was not declared and if it was not declared well then that is our remit so we boarded”, he informed when asked about the matter during a press conference held at his Camp Street office.
It is unclear when the vessel, MT Jubilee was detained, where it was coming from and how many persons were aboard.
The PPP yesterday said that the mooted fine seems to be the only sanction which will be imposed on this vessel and its owners.
“We are aware that the law provides that in such a circumstance, the boat is liable for forfeiture, the owners are liable to a fine of treble the value of the amount of tax evaded, as well as being liable for criminal charges. This is the regime of treatment to which the ordinary Guyanese is normally subject in similar circumstances. It begs the question, why this particular vessel attracts special treatment.
“Our information is that this case is being handled differently because the vessel is owned by several persons who are deeply connected to the Coalition Government. Our sources say that the Commissioner General received direction from the Ministry of the Presidency, in this matter and the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) is deliberately being kept away from the investigations. The GEA would normally institute several criminal charges in such situation”, the PPP charged.
It added: “We call upon the Auditor General to launch an investigation into this matter and we call upon the international community to note the level of corruption which permeates this Administration”.