The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) tax agents will be hunting down businesses that have been dodging Value Added Tax (VAT), causing billions in losses for the Authority, Commissioner General Godfrey Statia said on Monday at a Finance Ministry press conference.
He stated that the GRA was shifting gears to enforcement activities, and has decided to go after businesses to get compliance with VAT payments. He revealed that there were instances where VAT leakages occurred, costing millions.
“That is why you have to shift emphasis and do more post-clearance audit and more investigations and these things,” he said.
Finance Minister Winston Jordan stated that the GRA had “let the Government down” in the area of VAT refunds and collections.
“I feel this is an area that GRA has really let the Government down in many ways in aspects of refunds, not paying people their refunds on time, people benefiting from refunds they should not have received,” he bemoaned, stating that in many instances the VAT department of GRA acted like a “post office”.
Jordan said the VAT refunds were one of the heavy financial burdens that the coalition Government inherited. Statia said measures were in place to revamp the criteria for granting VAT exemptions that amount to as much as $20 billion for the first half of 2016.
“What we are trying to do is to tighten it whereby ourselves – the Ministry of Finance, GO-Invest and GRA – we sit down and by which we could grant exemptions rather than being granted on a willy-nilly basis as I have seen,” he said.
He also indicated that the Authority has started clearing off years of VAT refunds, beginning from 2013.
He stated that the tax collection agency has paid out $2 billion in refunds for the year and that figure was projected to climb to $5 billion by year-end.