AG confident in positive resolution of Banks suit against GRA

GINA, GUYANA, Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams SC said that he will protect the government’s coffers in the wake of beverage giant Banks DIH filing a $28B  law suit against the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA).

Today at a press briefing at the Ministry of Legal Affairs, Minister Williams clarified that while he is not a party to the law suit, he will ensure that no additional monies are drawn from the government’s treasuries.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams SC

“I will give all and any assistance that is necessary in protecting the government’s coffers, the tax payers’ coffers. We are very confident that the case will be a proper case,” Minister Williams said.

The GRA’s legal team has since consulted the AG’s Chambers on the Banks law suit. The Minister pointed out that the statutory limitations may be against Banks DIH. “In tax matters there is a statutory limitation… if you are overpaying tax you have three months within which you must bring an action but that is all I want to say at this time,” Minister Williams said.

Banks DIH Limited filed a law suit in December 2016 against the GRA for what it claims are overpaid consumption taxes and interests for the period 2001 to 2006 due to legal mistakes. The law suit comes on the heels of a $1.5B settlement by the GRA to Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) for a similar matter.

Minister Williams said that while he did not have custody of the case he could not justify GRA’s decision to settle with DDL. “I’m not in a position to say whether it was proper or not in settling matters. There are many different considerations and I would trust that Senior Counsel Stoby had the right and proper consideration uppermost in his mind when he and the GRA team dealt with that matter,” the Attorney General explained.

The Minister pointed out that it was the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) that had ruled that the GRA was “an independent institution and not a government department”. Nonetheless, the DDL matter was one that was inherited from the previous administration, Minister Williams maintained.

In addition to the GRA, the government has inherited several cases that will require billions of dollars in settlement. The government has since renegotiated with Surinamese company RUDSIA after the CCJ ruled in that company’s favour- in a matter that was brought against the previous administration.

Minister Williams said more companies have signalled their intention to move against the government for similar settlements. “They claimed to have mirrored facts with their situation. They intend to address the same issue of being reimbursed for the taxes paid under the unlawful regime created by the last regime where they passed legislation in breach of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas,” Minister Williams explained.

 

By: Tiffny Rhodius

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