The Guyana Times Newspaper last week carried a story titled “Another Beverage Company sues government for billions.”
Former President, Donald Ramotar in a press statement deems this situation as “unfortunate” and a result of the APNU and AFC’s short sighted and vindictive politics. “This should never have happened if those parties,while in opposition had shown an iota of patriotism,” Ramotar contends.
Backgrounding the matter, Ramotar reminded that it arose some years ago when Rudisa Beverages of Suriname sued the Guyana Government for violating the CARICOM agreement in relation to the treatment of a CARICOM company operating in Guyana. This action was in relation to the environmental tax that the PPP/C government had imposed on companies importing plastic bottles in the country. It affected mainly soft drink companies.
The contention was that the local companies, mainly Banks and DDL, were not subjected to the same tax. The former President noted that “this case should never have reached the CCJ for a decision, because the company and the PPP/C government had reached agreement with Rudisa that if all the companies were treated the same, Rudisa would drop the case.”
He also reminded that the PPP/C consulted both local companies. Did not have full agreement, but it was decided to cut the tax by half and apply it to all the companies operating in Guyana. “We thought that the opposition would find no difficulty in supporting this that the opposition would realize the cost to Guyana’s tax payers and support the amendment to the law.
Unfortunately, the opposition saw this as another tool to damage the PPP/C government. Despite very forceful and convincing arguments by our Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, Attorney General, Anil Nandlall and Carolyn Rodrigues, the APNU and AFC voted against the bill.”
As a result, the case went forward and the CCJ ruled in favour of the company. Ramotar noted that the Guyana government had to find six billion dollars to honour the award of the CCJ. This amount, Ramotar believes could have been invested in the sugar industry, preventing closure of estates.
The PPP/C had also warned that that would not be the end of the matter. It was pointed out then that some companies from Trinidad and Tobago could also take us to court because the case with Rudisa was the same. APNU and AFC seem delighted to hear this seeing that it would hurt the PPP/C government.That seem to spur them even more to vote against the amendment, he contends.
As things turned out, it is those parties that are in Government now and had to pay the six billion which they so delighted in imposing on the Guyanese tax payers.
“What the PPP/C warned them is now coming to pass. Companies from T&T are now suing the government as well. This can cost the taxpayers of Guyana much more than the Rudisa judgement. Some of those companies are much bigger and the award can be even greater,” Ramotar stated.
This was totally unnecessary and completely avoidable. However, the APNU and AFC displayed a strong unpatriotic stance and a level of selfishness unseen in our country.
“The cost of such an attitude is great. The bill is climbing,” Ramotar warned.