Govt ‘amends’ PPP/C motion to publicly declare income tax, assets – argues such a move violates privacy

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The Government, last evening, voted to significantly amend a motion presented by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) to have all parliamentarians make public their tax returns to the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) over the last 10 years, arguing that such a move would violate privacy.
In essence, instead of passing a motion to demand Members of Parliament (MPs) put under public scrutiny their income tax returns filed to the GRA and all assets declared to the Integrity Commission over the last 10 years, the amended motion, as passed by the Government using its majority in the House, requested parliamentarians to comply with the existing legislation which stipulates that everyone must file their income tax returns and declare their assets to the Integrity Commission.
According to a Devina Samaroo report published in today’s Guyana Times, it all started when PPP/C MP Juan

PPP/C MP Juan Edghill, introduced the motion to the National Assembly, on the basis of five critical grounds
PPP/C MP Juan Edghill, introduced the motion to the National Assembly, on the basis of five critical grounds

Edghill, in a powerful presentation, introduced the motion to the National Assembly, on the basis of five critical grounds.
Edghill underscored that an endorsement of the motion would mean that all parliamentarians were agreeing to implement greater levels of transparency and accountability.
Noting that he expected no one to vote against the motion, Edghill explained that the motion underlined an enhancement of public confidence in public officials; ensured there were honesty and uprightness in public officials; secured integrity of public officials; created the platform for a change in the culture of Guyanese politics; and was the strongest anti-corruption mechanism that could be put into place at this time.
Edghill, therefore, charged that no one, if they were genuinely serious about being accountable and transparent, should vote against the motion.
“Every ‘no’ vote in this House is a declaration that ‘my walk is not consistent with my talk’… (It means) ‘I bluff you, I duped you, I fool you and I am not sincere… I give you fancy talk and I am not prepared to live to those standards,” the parliamentarian proclaimed to loud heckling from the Government benches.

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo in the National Assembly last evening
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo in the National Assembly last evening

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo subsequently took the floor, setting the tone for Government MPs to shoot down the motion.
He argued that the motion was nothing but a “massive political diversion” from “what is really necessary” to unearth corruption.
He contended that the motion was ‘inadmissible’ because it was not in accordance with the Income Tax Act.
“You come with subterfuge to the Parliament: the language of the motion that says the law says what the law did not say… you cannot conspire or agree to an illegality or commit an illegality. The Income Tax law requires the filing of returns for a period of up to seven years. This motion is asking for a declaration of return of a period beyond what a law says you should file,” Nagamootoo asserted.
Moreover, he contended that corruption would not be caught under the Income Tax Act but rather under the Integrity Act whereby all public officials were required to declare their assets to the Integrity Commission.
Notably, since the establishment of this Act in 2000, all public officials are stipulated by law to declare their assets; however, there are allegations that some have failed to do so.
In response to the Prime Minister, Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira debunked Nagamootoo’s entire argument by explaining that the motion proposed was simply for an amendment to take effect to allow MPs to publicly declare their income taxes and assets.
Several other MPs including PPP/C’s Nigel Dharamlall and Charles Ramson Jr and Government Member Valerie Patterson-Sharpe took the floor to contribute to the debate.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo addressing the National Assembly yesterday
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo addressing the National Assembly yesterday

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, in his contribution, explained that notwithstanding the Income Tax Act stipulating that returns must be filed for a period of up to seven years, the National Assembly has the power to pass legislation to give effect to the motion in order to set the bar higher for all public officials.
He contended in response to taunts from the Government benches that it was no excuse to assert that if such an action was not taken in the past, there was no merit in doing so now.
Jagdeo also challenged, “If the corruption was in the past under the PPP, would you not be anxious for those PPP/C members to declare…if you are so perfect, then you would not have nothing to worry about.”
Jagdeo also proposed a public declaration of all assets to the Integrity Commission given that Nagamootoo had contended that this was where corruption would be caught.

Government MP, Raphael Trotman
Government MP, Raphael Trotman

Following Jagdeo’s presentation was Government MP Raphael Trotman, who lashed back at the PPP/C over the issue of confidentiality. Trotman reminded that the PPP/C argued strongly against the move by Government to bestow upon the GRA the power to access personal data should the need arise. According to Trotman, the PPP/C cried that personal data would be exposed and it ought to not happen.
“How is it now, just two weeks after, the very thing you are asking us not to do two weeks ago, you are asking us to do now?” Trotman rebutted.
At this point, the debate was rounding up and in accordance with convention, Edghill rose to conclude the debate on the motion.
However, Nagamootoo was agitated by Edghill’s conclusion and requested to respond to Edghill in accordance to a Standing Order.

PPP/C MPs to walk out of the Chambers
PPP/C MPs to walk out of the Chambers

This move prompted all PPP/C MPs to walk out of the Chambers, and they only returned when it was time to vote on the motion.
The Government MPs voted against the motion and in the process, proposed amendments to the motion for the National Assembly to support the enforcement of the legal requirement for all MPs to file their income tax returns and make declarations to the Integrity Commission.
This proposal was protested and eventually saw Edghill calling for his motion to be withdrawn, arguing that the amendments significantly changed the intent of the original motion.
The Government MPs declined the withdrawal request and at the end of the debate, succeeded in passing the amended motion.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Govt ‘amends’ PPP/C motion to publicly declare income tax, assets – argues such a move violates privacy
    PNC rule —only those on the PPP side must declare all assets at all times.
    PNC people has nothing to declare since awe are a depressed repressed compressed people…case closed.

  2. If US politicians can declare their income taxes why can’t Guyanese politicians?
    unless they have something to HIDE!

  3. Edghill, and the P.P.P. got caught in their own net, and with their own net. What a master full display of tactics and strategy by the coalition Government, to blunt their deceptive and wicked scheme to bypass the integrity commission and escape the full force of the Law and diminish the effectiveness of the Integrity commission. . They have given the matches and the gasoline to light the fire under their back sides, and they have started screaming before the fire gets going. They will do well to search for a fire engine to put out the fire when it is started ( if that is possible) or they would not have anything to sit on.

  4. When Jagdeo speaks Naga start in a fish market row! This is what un-educated dunces are capable of doing- The PNC regime has done nothing but express racism! Wiki Leak were spot on to declare Granger as Racist! The ABC countries know to well who he is and installed him and Harmon to destroy Guyana and create a ethnic division among the Guyanese people! The action of the PNC regime has show nothing different but pure Racism! Coc-Eye naga and Ramjattan is looking east and seeing west! Hence the blind eye to the Indians being suppressed.

  5. All MP’s should declare their assets. Who really has secrets now? The PNC and the AFC is afraid of being exposed of corruptions even while they were in the Oppositions, Nagamoottoo was paid by the PPP to handle the legal matters for the residents in Berbice around the floating bridge and went and rip off the residents individually. That was a crime.

  6. This proposal was protested and eventually saw Edghill calling for his motion to be withdrawn, arguing that the amendments significantly changed the intent of the original motion.
    The Government MPs declined the withdrawal request and at the end of the debate, succeeded in passing the amended motion.

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