“Don’t attack GRA for enforcing the law!” – Finance Minister

first_imgBy Devina Samaroofinance Minister Winston Jordan was utterly astonished at the calls from the business community for the localFinance Minister Winston Jordantax authority to rethink its crackdown on errant entities, positing that the laws must be enforced.“I don’t know what it means to ease up enforcement… this is the problem we have… Once they (regulations) are on the books, we are obligated to enforce them in accordance with the law,” the Minister emphasised during a recent news conference.Linden Mayor Carwyn Holland made the first call for the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) to put a hold on a current crackdown on non-compliant businesses in the mining town.The appeal later gained traction and Private Sector representatives subsequently made a similar demand, urging the tax body to rethink its enforcement of some regulations and modernise them where necessary.Completely appalled at the requests, Jordan made it clear that his Government will not encourage and promote a lax on enforcement; however, he mentioned that there are alternatives for dealing with the taxes if they are indeed too burdensome for businesses.“I just cannot believe it… If it’s a regulation, it has to be enforced. If you want it removed, we can discuss it with a view to alter and change, but you cannot rethink the enforcement,” he explained.Jordan pointed out that when the regulations were not enforced, stakeholders were crying out about unfair competition and unleveled playing fields and lamented that now, when the authorities have heeded to their initial requests, complains still exist.“These regulations were not being enforced and so it allowed an unfair advantage to those who benefited. When we begin to enforce the regulations, then people begin to cry.So you take a simple vendor who pays no taxes, GRA goes in and enforces the regulation and they are no longer competitive so that’s some level of demand and supply gonna fall… but on the other hand, the legitimate businesses are happy because their profits will go up, their sales will go up and so forth,” the Minister explained, noting that the compliant businesses are naturally going to benefit if the laws are upheld.Furthermore, Jordan dismissed claims that the GRA is only going after small businesses and not large corporations. He posited that poor public relations ought to be blamed for that perception.“It is not true, x big business wrote saying that they are facing unfair competition, I asked GRA what on earth you are doing because these are legitimate people who are paying and there is an elaborate structure in place that targets these different businesses.They have a PR issue and it appears as if they are going after the rum shop in West Demerara or the one in Linden and so on,” he explained, noting that tax enforcements are being done across the board.“It’s a countrywide measure aimed at getting people to legitimise themselves. We can’t on the one hand ask for legitimacy to take a foothold and at the same time when those who will be affected, we seek to have this ‘oh you know leave them and so on’,” he stated.Jordan reminded that one has to be extremely dispassionate when enforcing the laws. “You have to go after your mom or dad… Otherwise you’ll always have a friend who’ll say ‘don’t touch he’,” he highlighted.Moreover, he noted that in time, if everyone pays their taxes, the possibility exists that the taxes will eventually be reduced.“If everybody comes into the net, just think about how we can reduce taxes overall generally… We need to go after everybody so that if the take is wider, we can bring down the rates over time,” he opined.last_img