Part of $3.8B Guyana Stores tax debt paid – Statia

Guyana Stores Limited

Guyana Stores Limited (GSL) has paid the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) “a few hundreds of millions,” Commissioner-General Godfrey Statia says and discussions are ongoing on how the remainder of its $3.8 billion tax debt will be paid.

The debt is the result of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ruling against GSL’s constitutional challenge to the 2% minimum corporation tax applied by the GRA under the Fiscal Enactments (Amendment) Act.

GSL was given two extensions to make its payments to the GRA since the March ruling and Statia confirmed yesterday that it was yet to make the full payment.

However, he said that discussions are currently ongoing and he could only say at this point in time that the company has paid “a few hundreds of millions.”

He said that they still have to engage them on the payments of the outstanding sum and they want to finish up the discussions by the end of this month. “We have to respond to a request from them and I can’t say what it is but they have made a proposal which is under active consideration. But in the meantime, they have paid some money,” he said.

Godfrey Statia

Stabroek News tried last week to get a comment from Tony Yassin – one of the co-owners of the company – to not avail. Yassin had related that he has no more pronouncements to make on the issue.

Yassin had told Stabroek News in March that the company would be opened to coming to a “reasonable” settlement with the GRA.

“Well, we are a retail company and I can’t say we don’t have any problem repaying. This is a lot of money and we will work out whatever arrangement they come up with,” Yassin had said, while reiterating that the company would have no choice but to follow whatever agreement it arrived at with GRA.

The court told GSL that it should have utilised the specialised procedure provided under the Income Tax Act to challenge the GRA, rather than bring claims for constitutional relief in matters where not only was an alternative remedy available but that remedy was the natural and statutorily provided recourse. To do otherwise, it argued, was “an abuse of process.”

GSL received a demand, dated May, 2012 from the then GRA Commissioner-General Khurshid Sattaur for the sum of $3,811,346,397 in unpaid taxes and chose to institute proceedings in the courts of Guyana.

Having lost at both the High Court and Appellate Court, GSL appealed the matter at the level of the CCJ, which has now dismissed GSL’s appeal and ordered the company to pay costs to the three Respondents: the Attorney General, the Revenue Authority and the Commissioner-General.

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