…legal counsel says tax claim was previously rejected by court
On the same day that Finance Minister Winston Jordan was supposed to pay Dipcon US$2 million in a court-awarded judgement, it has emerged that the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has slapped the Trinidad-based company with a tax bill of over G$500 million.
INews was able to confirm with Dipcon’s legal representative, Timothy Jonas that the GRA sent his client the letter claiming it owed the tax authority the money. According to reports reaching this publication, the alleged debt is G$527.8 million.
“What I can tell you is that a similar letter from the GRA, about six months ago, was challenged by Dipcon and thrown out by the court. The timing was about the same, when a claim was made for a mandamus for Jordan to pay the money. The same day we appeared in court, that letter came,” the Attorney said.
Section 101 (1) of the Income Tax Act states that “When the Commissioner General has knowledge or suspects that a person is or is about to become indebted or liable to make a payment of tax under this Act, he may, by registered letter or by letter served personally, require such first-mentioned person to pay the monies otherwise payable to such second-mentioned person in whole or in part to him on account of the liability of the second mentioned person under this Act.”
It goes on to say, “The receipt of the Commissioner General for monies paid as required under this section shall to the extent of the payment be a good and sufficient discharge of the original liability: – (a) of the person who pays such monies to the Commissioner General to the person liable to make a payment tax under this Act; (b) of the person liable to make a payment of tax under this Act to the Commissioner General.”
Efforts to contact GRA Commissioner General Godfrey Statia were futile.
Last month, High Court Judge, Justice Priya Sewnarine-Beharry had ordered Minister Jordan to pay Dipcon a US$2.2 million award or face jail time. The Trinidad-based construction company had taken the Finance Minister to court for failing to honour the payment of millions of dollars, which was awarded to Dipcon by Justice Rishi Persaud in 2015.
After Dipcon took the Government to court back in 2009 to recover monies owed for road works done, Justice Persaud had ordered Government to pay the company US$665,032.17 as payment for the works done along with US$1,563,368.50 for costs it incurred for those works, together with interest on both amounts, at a rate of six per cent annum from February 10, 2009, to October 21, 2015 and thereafter at the rate of four per cent per annum until fully paid.
However, since none of the payments owed were made, Dipcon had successfully approached the High Court for an administrative order to compel the Minister to pay.
On Friday, Justices Diana Insanally and Simone Morris-Ramlall threw out Jordan’s application, filed by Attorney General Basil Williams, for a stay of the court order. In their judgement, the Judges expressed the view that his application had no merit.