The Mayor and City Council (M&CC) on Monday revealed that some $8.4 billion, excluding accrued interest, is owed by taxpayers within the perimeter of Georgetown and as such, it would be moving to recover these monies.
City Treasurer John Douglas made this disclosure on Monday, telling media operatives that after a final computation, the sum of $8.4 billion was found to be owed by residential and commercial taxpayers combined.
Some records show that persons have not paid taxes for over 25 years. As such, a rate recovery drive will commence on Thursday to go after delinquent taxpayers.
“We have finalised our approach as to the way we would go about garnering revenue. One of the things we have noticed in looking at the Council financially is there is a lot of rates that is outstanding. The last we checked, it was $8.4 billion and that was without interest,” Douglas stated.
The drive will commence in areas closest to City Hall, moving outwards to the outskirts of the city. The first zone on the agenda is Lacytown, Georgetown.
“One of the approaches we have decided to do is to carry out a rate recovery drive. It will be made up of six to seven individuals who would go about to a certain area and we’re looking to start off with Lacytown. We’re trying to target all areas that are closest to Council first and then we would go out,” the City Treasurer stated.
He added that while there was a difference in rates for commercial and residential taxpayers, some commercial enterprises have been paying the residential fee, which is significantly lower.
Persons who cannot pay the owed money will be given a chance to appear before City Hall’s Finance Committee to make arrangements to settle their debts.
“It is the obligation to pay what is due to us … What we’ve noticed in the systems is that you have some individuals who is commercial, but is actually paying a residential rate. Those are one of the things we want to target,” Douglas added.
Meanwhile, the acting Town Clerk, Sharon Harry-Munroe explained that officers of the Council would dispatch themselves to encourage persons to pay the outstanding sums. If they do not comply, the Council will not hesitate to bring these persons before the courts.
“What we are doing is coaxing persons to pay their taxes. It’s our first approach in our discussions and thereafter, after we review it and recognise that persons are still not coming, eventually we will reach to the stage where we will be having persons before the court,” she stated.
Just a few weeks ago, Mayor Ubraj Narine had called out 140 businesses for owing taxes to the Council.
While City Hall is urging taxpayers to balance their accounts, the local organ is also guilty of owing taxes and pension payments for its employees. It was revealed last October during the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) that the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has been awaiting payments for rates and taxes dating back to 2016, while there has also been an examination of pension payments to a broker insurance company that has not been paid for the past 19 months.
Deputy Commissioner of Internal Revenue, Ron Simbhu told the Commission that City Hall was guilty of outstanding taxes, which have been owed for 2016, 2017, and 2018.
While they were unable to divulge the amount as part of agreements made, Simbhu positively stated that these payments were not made.