“It’s not for me to decide” – GRA boss on GTT tax negotiations

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By Devina Samaroo

Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Godfrey Statia says the onus is not on him to decide whether there will be any amendments to the US$44 million tax settlement between the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the Guyana Telephone Telegraph (GTT) company.

GTT is currently engaged in negotiations with the Guyana Government and the GRA regarding the liberalization of the telecommunications sector and the tax dispute is at the center of those talks.

In its 2016 Annual Report, GTT said it is involved in several legal claims regarding its tax filings with the GRA dating back to 1991 regarding the deductibility of intercompany advisory fees as well as other tax assessments.

The report states that should GTT be held liable for any of the disputed tax assessments, totaling $44.1 million, the Company believes that the Government of Guyana would then be obligated to reimburse GTT for any amounts necessary to ensure that GTT’s return on investment was no less than 15% per annum for the relevant periods.

But the GRA Head told reporters on Thursday, January 25, 2018, that he will be guided by the law and tax principles.

“That is not a decision for me, I am bound by the law, I am bound by tax principles. If the tax principles said that we did not raise the assessment in accordance with the law and tax principles, I am prepared to reduce the assessment or amend it,” Statia explained.

Statia emphasized, “it’s non-negotiable where taxes are concerned.”

According to the Commissioner General, “any assessment that will be reduced or maintained would be based on principles that you can actually stand up in a court of law.”

Public Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes, at a press conference this week, suggested that the liberalization of the sector is hinged on the negotiations between GTT and the GRA.

Minister Hughes acknowledged that liberalisation of the sector has not occurred despite several promises.

She did not set a new deadline for the sector to be liberalised but she announced that at least 20 companies have already expressed an interest in entering the market.

 

The Minister also disclosed that the National Telecommunications Agency, which will be responsible for regulating the sector is in the process of being established so that it will be fully operational once the sector becomes liberalised. 

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