By Jomo Paul
[www.inewsguyana.com] –Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Khurshid Sattaur has described concerns raised about the Financial Institutions Bill 2015 as “nonsense”, insisting that GRA will be professional in the discharge of its remit.
The Financial Institutions (Amendment) Bill 2015 seeks to amend Section 63 of the Financial Institutions Act to permit disclosure of customer information by a financial institution to the GRA, where a law so requires or where the revenue authority makes a lawful request or demand for the information.
Contacted on Sunday, November 01, Sattaur told iNews that the GRA has had that power from time immemorial
until it was snatched by then Chief Justice Carl Singh, in a 2002 High Court ruling.
In a notable case, against a GRA officer, Singh had ruled that the GRA is not government but rather an agent of the State – effectively denying access to private banking information.
“Prior to that we always had access I don’t understand this nonsense…Its nothing new…these people are making an issue out of nothing,” said the GRA Boss.
Sattaur noted that GRA is being pitted as a political tool to target some, when in fact, this is not the case.
“These people want to drag the GRA into a political ball game I am not in for that nonsense. We have a professional job to do, it cuts across all sorts of political affiliation,” he emphasized.
He said that when it comes down to it, no single side of the political divide is taxed while the other goes untaxed. Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo has said that some businessmen are worried that GRA “will be used politically to go after their information and I am very fearful about what this could trigger.”
The Opposition Leader noted many of them probably will pull their money out of the system.
“If that happens you will have a large scale movement of resources, switching to US dollars or to be externalized to capital fund. This could cause a run of the banks as well as major problems with our currency and I urge the government to be careful about the signals they’re sending because if that were to ever happen, we will trigger a crisis of unimaginable proportions in this country,” said Jagdeo.