GMSA Hosts GRA Commissioner General at Business Luncheon
Advocates for VAT reduction and tax incentives for manufacturersThe Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) on Thursday, September 28 hosted a Business luncheon with a feature presentation from Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Godfrey Statia.
At the event, which was held at the Georgetown Club, President of the GMSA, Shyam Nokta, stressed the importance of dialogue in the formulation of tax policies. He said, “We cannot sustain what is now eleven years of uninterrupted economic growth without this dialogue and central to this is the need for open, frank exchanges when we believe there are issues to address.”
According to the GMSA President, these discussions are especially necessary as the country prepares for the oil and gas industry. “We need to see practical measures so that the economic sectors, including the manufacturing and services sectors –can help drive a return to strong GDP growth. I believe that the challenges our country faces today need us to be experiencing 4-5% growth and more, and this is within our grasp through the right policies from Government, and the right corporate decisions from the private sector. There is much talk on how the imminent emergence of an oil and gas sector will change everything for our country. That is precisely why we need to ensure we build all the institutional defences against the well-known economic and governance risks that oil and gas could bring.”
Meanwhile, Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority, Godfrey Statia, in his presentation, said the authority is always open to discussions with stakeholders.“It is crucial to ensure that a feedback loop exists between the GRA and business leaders as to what proposals are being actively considered and any potential tax implications and opportunities that may result. It is only by establishing proactive communication in this manner that a business can achieve a holistic view of the true cost of investment and business opportunities.” Statia added that it is crucial to ensure that a feedback loop exists between the GRA and business leaders as to what their needs are.
In speaking to some of the critical issues Mr. Statia recognizing the need to improve efficiency and reducing downtime. He said,“The Authority re-introduced the Post Clearance Audit, allowed containers of reputable importers to be done on site, and introduced the Trusted Trader program whereby by meeting certain criteria, containers are expeditiously cleared thereby reducing demurrage fees and downtime.
Additionally, The GRA boss said it began discussions with UNCTAD regarding the introduction of the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA).
Through this programme, GRA hopes to modernize customs operations and improve revenue collection, facilitate trade efficiency and competitiveness by substantially reducing transaction time and costs, improve security by streamlining procedures of cargo control, transit of goods and clearance of goods, reduce corruption by enhancing the transparency of transactions and promote sustainable development by cutting down on the use of paper, through the use of electronic transactions and documents.
Statia disclosed that the agreement with UNCTAD has been signed, payment has been effected and training will commence shortly. A pilot project will also commence shortly thereafter at the John Fernandes wharf.
Apart from that, he said, work will continue on the Trusted Trader Programme, which will allow eligible businesses with good track records to conduct transactions, and clear goods unhindered by red tape and other bureaucratic hurdles.
Following Mr. Statia’s presentation there was an interactive session where several members of the business community took the opportunity to engage the Commissioner on key issues.
Mr. Statia indicated that efforts are ongoing on VAT refunds for companies, he has since advised his staff to prioritize refunds for persons, who have had such request lagging in the system for years.
The event was attended by over 150 persons including executives from other private sector organisations – the Private Sector Commission, Georgetown Chambers of Commerce and Industry, as well as CEOs and senior representatives from a wide cross section of businesses.