The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has taken umbrage to reports in a section of the media which it said conveyed the impression that the entity was a contributing factor in the delay of the opening of MovieTowne Guyana.
In a statement issued on Sunday night, the entity said, among other things, that in mid-2017, the principal of MovieTowne, Guyanese-born businessman, Derek Chin “first met with the GRA to discuss the issue of concessions, and at that meeting, requested that concessions be backdated to the commencement of construction. The GRA advised that concessions cannot be backdated and should have been applied prior to the commencement of construction.”
Moreover, the GRA posited that MovieTowne, was in breach of the terms of another Investment Development Agreement (IDA), since, based on the said IDA, equipment earmarked for use on another major project was being utilised in the construction of MovieTowne.
However, the head of the Revenue Authority Godfrey Statia said that “GRA agreed to allow both projects to continue, with the understanding that the available remedies under the said IDA will be enforced subsequent to the completion of both projects.”
It was outlined further by GRA that MovieTowne submitted an IDA application to Go-Invest, which was copied to the Revenue Authority and the entity was advised in September of 2017 by the GRA “that only concessions similar to those granted to competitors in the industry will be allowed, and further that additional information was needed inclusive of source of financing before a recommendation can be made to the Honourable Minister of Finance for approval.”
According to the Statia in the statement, when MovieTowne’s container arrived at the wharf on October 21, 2017, and without the approval of the IDA, the GRA facilitated the clearance of its goods with a Prior to Processing (PTP) arrangement on November 19, 2017.
Outlining that there was no delay on the part of GRA, Statia said that the goods were uplifted on November 28, 2017, while “on December 29, 2017, MovieTowne was granted an IDA consistent with those granted to competitors in the industry which allow for the waiver of Duty and VAT on certain equipment.”
Chin, is currently constructing the first overseas branch of the Trinidad-based MovieTowne franchise here in Guyana. During a recent tour, however, the businessman had spoken out about challenges facing the over US$45M Turkeyen investment.
While, outlining that interactions with Government had dwindled, the businessman said that challenges, some of which were related to concessions, were costing the company and delaying the completion of the project.
Following the concerns raised by Chin however, there were calls for the company to reveal what concessions it received from Government. Specific calls came from Giftland Mall proprietor, Roy Beepat, considered one of MovieTowne’s main competitors.
But Chin was adamant that his company did not receive preferential treatment. In an interview with the businessman on Saturday, he refuted suggestions that his business benefited from duty-free concessions outside of the norm. According to Chin, the only concessions he received were those related to cinematic equipment, in keeping with standard investment practise.
Chin’s statement, it seems, has since be corroborated with the one issued by the GRA Head, where he highlighted, inter alia, that “MovieTowne was granted an IDA consistent with those granted to competitors in the industry which allow for the waiver of Duty and VAT on certain equipment.”
The GRA Commissioner General also pointed out that “only concessions similar to those granted to competitors in the industry will be allowed.”