GRA takes issue with AG’s Report

first_imgDear Editor,The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) wishes to respond to the contents of a Guyana Times article “134.2B in tax concessions, doubled under APNU/ AFC Government, significant amount of luxury vehicles – AG report”. This article contains such misleading and erroneous representations and statements aimed at discrediting the formidable efforts of the GRA in curtailing revenue loss regarding tax exemptions that it would be remiss of me not to appropriately respond.Firstly, it must be pointed out that the GRA administers the concession regime and does not grant concessions. Matter of fact, I am repeatedly on record stating my preference for the removal of the concession regime and to replace such with the system of tax credits. Such a system, as practised in the developed nations, allows for improved compliance with the tax laws and conditions of IDAs.Secondly, the article stated “According to the Audit Report of 2018, some $134.2 billion in concessions were granted for 2018, compared to just $64.3 billion in 2017, a 91.97 per cent increase. The report went on to say that: “In fact, the $134 billion, it (the GRA) waived represents a large chunk of all monies collected by the Guyana Revenue Authority in 2018.” Further, the article noted according to the report “a total 9359 companies benefitted from $104.7 billion in tax concessions”.For the sake of brevity, I will not expound on all the statutory reasoning and parameters regarding the Exemption Regime. However, for the sake of the learned individuals who should understand how the regime operates but who inexplicably demonstrates selective ignorance, and the Guyanese public who they are trying to convince in this “silly season”, I will again provide some explanations which I hope will bring more clarity and final closure to this matter.Exemptions are categorically placed into Conditional and Unconditional Schemes, with Conditional Schemes being granted to Companies/Investors/Manufacturers etc which results in investment stimulation, and raw materials for manufacturers. As the category name suggests, the concession is premised on the beneficiaries satisfying certain predefined conditions, both pre and post the exemption granted.Public officials and remigrants are categorised in the Conditional category as a result of conditions which must be satisfied. Government agencies including budget agencies such as the Office of the Auditor General are also included in this category.Unconditional Exemptions, however, are specific to international trade agreements that Guyana has with countries, both regionally and internationally. The conditions for these are etched in the trade agreements that were bilaterally agreed upon by countries involved and are not contingent on conditionalities. These include importations from Caricom countries and imports of specific items eg tiles from neighbouring Brazil.It is patently obvious that the GRA, therefore, can only exert influence in terms of formulating and implementing policies and controls. This will only, therefore, apply to the Conditional category of Exemptions and in limited circumstances to the Unconditional category. The controls for the unconditional category in many cases only involve authenticating relevant trade documents such as country of origin certificate etc. Matter of fact, there is no need to apply for the exemption under this category. This is usually granted automatically if all the relevant documentations are filed with the import documents, but the GRA through Post Clearance activities would check on their authenticity.There has been so much buzz and fanfare in our country about oil and gas exploration and our recent oil finds. These companies by way of signed Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs) are entitled to significant exemptions upon importation of capital items as preparatory works for the upliftment of oil. In the years 2016-2018, such imports intensified as a result of ramping up preparation for development, production and downstream activities.I say all of the above to now unequivocally unambiguously and with reservation say that Exemptions (excluding the oil and gas element) under my tenure as Commissioner General, which began in the year 2016, are less in value when compared to the period 2013-2015.For the period 2013-2015, Conditional Exemptions (excluding the unavoidable oil and gas applicants) were as follows: 2013 – $45.78 billion, 2014 – $53.27 billion and 2015 – $72.72 billion; for the period 2016-2018, this same category was $30.73 billion, $35.80 billion and $43.65 billion respectively. Unconditional Exemptions for the period 2013-2015 totalled $34.09 billion, while the total for 2016-2018 was $49.64 billion.Under the category of Conditional Exemptions, the main benefactors were the sub category Companies/Business. For the period 2013-2015, Companies and Business benefitted to the tune of $119.04 billion, while for the period 2016-2018, Companies and Business (excluding oil and gas), value was $76.68 billion, some $42.36 billion less when compared with the period 2013-2015.Remigrants, a category of Conditional Exemptions that was previously abused as was alluded to by previous Auditor General reports, was reduced by $2.56 billion in the period 2016 to 2018 ($5.37 billion during 2013 to 2014, and $2.81 billion during 2016 to 2018). Additionally, public officials reduced by $1.1 billion during the period 2016 to 2018 ($2.83 billion in 2013 to 2015 and $1.73 in 2016-2018).Any sound analysis that should have guided an informed conclusion or audit opinion on this matter should have been based on empirical data so that readers and users of the report could have deduced the relevant points and then form an informed and well-construed opinion. Regrettably, neither the Auditor General nor the media house that published the article seems inclined to present the Guyanese public with well-informed positions.As part of the audit process, all IDAs were made available to the staff of the Auditor General for inspection. Further, the PSAs are public documents. Any sound review would have provided an informed analysis as to the reasons for the increase in exemption in certain categories and therefore one would have concluded differently, and certainly more rationally and logically that what is being purported by the media article to be in the AG’s report of 2018. Inexplicably, I am not in possession of such report. I am being guided by Guyana Times which, it appears, has unrestricted and unprecedented access to the report.While the exemptions administered by the GRA relative to tax collected seems like the perfect fit for a sensationalised headline, the article takes a myopic and chauvinistic view of exemptions by comparing exemptions granted in 2018 with the previous year. A more detailed analysis from 2013 to 2018 would have shown the drastic decrease in both the numbers and the values of exemption granted over the years.The GRA from 2016 onwards, under new strategic directions, has undertaken several interventions that saw a significant reduction in the number and value of exemptions granted. Requests for tax exemptions, in particular, those in the Conditional category, are scrutinised to ensure that they meet specific criteria so as to curtail the significant loss of revenue that resulted from the arbitrary and capricious manner in which such concessions were granted previously.Further, efforts by the GRA have not been limited to administering the concessions granted, but also extends to its swift and robust control measures to ensure that beneficiaries are in keeping with conditions committed to in their respective agreements. To this end, over the years 2016-2018, sterling efforts of the GRA has led to the recovery of in excess of $1 billion dollars (yes, one billion dollars) from Post Exemption exercises (including sale of seizures to recover taxes) conducted on beneficiaries, who would have otherwise been declared fit and proper for the exemption by external agencies. The very photograph that appears in the Guyana Times article is one such vehicle that was repossessed by the Post Exemption exercise resulting from a breach of an IDA that was given to this company during 2013 to 2015. This is testimony to the fact that the GRA is not oblivious and unmindful to the potential revenue loss from the abuse of the tax exemption scheme, and has taken measures to curtail its abuse.Our work is in a continuous progression mode which can only progressively and incrementally improve as we continue to assiduously pursue our mandate to ensure compliance with Guyana’s trade, tax and border laws. As the leader of the GRA, my detractors can rest assured that I will remain undeterred by assertions and statements, which for the most part, are baseless and unsubstantiated.One last note to consider – Could the Auditor General state for the public record when was his agency last audited?Sincerely,Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA)last_img read more

FEARS FOR GLENTIES COURT HOUSE AS IT CLOSES – WITH NO MONEY FOR REPAIRS

first_imgGlenties Court HouseGLENTIES court house is to close – because the Government won’t come up with the cash to carry out minor repairs.Future district court sittings will now be held in a local community centre. Judge Paul Kelly said today’s sitting would be the last.The building was opened in 1843 and has been used ever since.Last year a storm sent hail crashing through windows during a sitting.Donegal Daily understands around €40,000 is needed for repairs but for health and safety reasons the court cannot sit there again until those repairs are carried out.The Courts Service has so far not come up with the money.Local people fear the building will fall into further disrepair – and will never be used again.FEARS FOR GLENTIES COURT HOUSE AS IT CLOSES – WITH NO MONEY FOR REPAIRS was last modified: September 23rd, 2015 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:closedcourt houseGlentieslast_img read more

Friday’s QPR quiz

first_imgTest your Rangers knowledge. See how many of these five questions you can answer correctly…[wp-simple-survey-13]Click here for yesterday’s QPR quizClick here for Wednesday’s QPR quizClick here for Tuesday’s QPR quizClick here for Monday’s QPR quizFollow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img

Ernie Els goes wire-to-wire in Munich

first_imgWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material “Seven birdies and an eagle for a 63 was certainly a neat way of doing that. We knew it was going to be low scoring week, so if you come out of the blocks fast like that, it does somewhat take the pressure off for the rest of the tournament. It means you’re not having to play a game of catch-up all week.” The victory was the 68th of Els’ career and his 28th on the European Tour. Surprisingly, it was the first by a South African in the BMW International. Even an opening 63, however, does not guarantee a procession to the title and it was far from that for Els, who was passed by both Thomas Bjorn and Alexander Levy in the final round, but he kept his composure to sign for a third 69 on the trot and an 18-under-par total. Ernie Els captured the BMW International Open at Golfclub Munchen Eichenried in Munich, Germany on Sunday, having led the tournament from start to finish. It was a timely win for the South African great, coming just a month ahead of his British Open title defence at Muirfield. Fellow South African Darren Fichardt enjoyed a strong showing, finishing in a tie for seventh with Sergio Garcia and Wen-yi Huang on 14-under-par 274. “Any time you have a tap-in birdie putt to win a golf tournament, you’re a happy man!” 270 Ernie Els (RSA) (-18) 63, 69, 69, 69271 Thomas Bjorn (Den) (-17) 68, 69, 65, 69272 Alexander Levy (Fra) (-16) 65, 68, 68, 71273 Martin Kaymer (Ger) (-15) 64, 71, 69, 69273 Alex Noren (Swe) (-15) 64, 71, 66, 72273 Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) (-15) 66, 68, 71, 68274 Darren Fichardt (RSA) (-14) 70, 66, 69, 69274 Sergio Garcia (Esp) (-14) 71, 69, 65, 69274 Wen-yi Huang (Chn) (-14) 71, 69, 69, 65 TiedIt tied him with compatriot Louis Oosthuizen, Italy’s Matteo Manassero and England’s Ian Poulter as the only golfers to have won European Tour titles in each of the past four years. ComposedHeading into the 18th, Els needed a birdie to win. He wrote afterwards: “It was tight right down to the wire, though, so we knew we’d probably have to make birdie on 18 to secure the win. To play that hole so well and make a secure two-putt birdie, that was obviously very satisfying. ExcitmentThere was further excitement for South African golf fans when, after being given a sponsor’s exemption, Brandon Stone, who turned professional at the beginning of the month, tied for 10th in his first tournament in the paying ranks. He finished on 275 after rounds of 66, 71, 67 and 71. Tjaart van der Walt and Justin Walters tied for 29th on 279, Jaco van Zyl shared 35th on 280, while Dawie van der Walt tied for 41st on 281. “What an awesome week it was! T10 finish on debut is a dream come true!” he wrote on Twitter afterwards. The win, worth €333 330 (approximately R4.46-million), also secured a place for Els in the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, the 2013 WGC-HSBC Champions and the 2014 Volvo Golf Champions. LEADERBOARD 24 June 2013 Els’ victory was built upon a superb first round of nine-under-par 63. “That first round was the dream start for me,” he wrote on his website, “especially having come straight from a tough week in the US Open at Merion. Obviously I played some good stuff there, so my goal was to carry that form into the BMW. last_img read more

Operation Hydrate to drill boreholes

first_img19 February 2016Operation Hydrate has announced that it has allocated R1-million for the drilling of an initial 15 boreholes in drought-stricken areas of South Africa.Working alongside aid relief organisation Al-Imdaad Foundation, the NGO will drill an initial five boreholes in the Zululand district of KwaZulu-Natal. Partnerships with other NGOs are being finalised for the operation to continue in other provinces.The NGO is on a mission to distribute water to dry parts of the country and has distributed more than 7 million litres of water to regions in five provinces since it launched in early January this year. The initiative was started in response to urgent calls for water from affected communities.According to Operation Hydrate’s Yaseen Theba, drilling the boreholes is phase two of the NGO’s drive. “While we [are] continuing to deliver thousands of litres of bottled water for drinking purposes to those affected, we are now moving into phase two, which is boreholes.”Several boreholes are already in use in Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal because of Al Imdaad and the government social initiative, Operation Sukuma Sakhe.Although the boreholes will bring some relief to communities hit by drought, Operation Hydrate will continue to distribute bottled water as it says “more and more taps are running dry and the drought is widening”.“We cannot sit back helplessly and see our people suffering,” says Theba. “We must all join hands and continue and expand our humanitarian efforts.”This weekend, Operation Hydrate will distribute 10 truckloads of water to Modimolle and Tzaneen in Limpopo, Barberton and Nelspruit in Mpumalanga, and Ixopo in KwaZulu-Natal.UbuntuAt a water drive held at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg on 29 January, it was reported that Operation Hydrate had collected more than R55-million from private and public sector donors. Meanwhile, in Mogale City, Alma Mater Academy’s 10-year-old learner Annemique Janse van Vuuren got friends and teachers to collect 28 000 litres of water, far surpassing the initial target of 20 000 litres. The water will be donated to Operation Hydrate on Monday, 22 February.The NGO’s project co-ordinator, Yusuf Abramjee, is heartened by donations from South Africans, saying that it is the spirit of ubuntu shining across the country. “Corporates, schools, NGOs, religious organisations and individuals are continuing to donate water and cash. Our hundreds of volunteers are leading the way. They are sacrificing their time and resources to collect water, package it for transport and distribute the loads in affected areas.“We appreciate support from all sectors of society including (the) government. We are working closely with the Department of Water and Sanitation to identify areas in need of water and also where to drill boreholes. Please also donate towards boreholes.”Operation Hydrate chairperson Fayaaz Moosa appealed to the public to continue to donate water and cash. “The support from our schools has been phenomenal. Our teams visit schools every week to collect water. Many schools have taken up the challenge by displaying the water creatively.”What you can do to helpOperation Hydrate has called on all South Africans to help bring relief for those suffering from the drought. Here’s how you can help:Donate cash to buy bottled water and for boreholes. The Johannesburg drop-off point is 11 Western Boulevard Road, City Deep. In Pretoria, water can be delivered to Operation Hydrate at the Zwartkop Raceway along the R55 in Centurion. All collection points for sealed bottles of water will stop on Wednesday, 31 March.Cricket fans can donate five-litre sealed bottles of water outside Bidvest Wanderers on Sunday, 21 February and on 6 March during South Africa’s T20 games with England and Australia respectively.You can donate R30 to Operation Hydrate when you SMS WATER to 42530.You can also transfer funds straight into the NGO’s bank account: Operation Hydrate, Absa, branch code 632005, account number 9314587739. Your name and telephone number can be used as a referenceFollow Operation Hydrate on Twitter @hydratesa, on Facebook or Instagram. Check out its website. For more information, contact Yaseen Theba on 084 222 2222 or Yusuf Abramjee on 082 441 4203.South Africa.info reporterlast_img read more

Africa Gets Cutting-Edge Solar Broadband, Phones From Microsoft

first_imgTags:#broadband#Internet#Microsoft Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Related Posts Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement Microsoft has launched a Kenyan pilot network of solar-powered towers that tap into unlicensed “white space” frequencies to provide wireless connectivity to rural communities in the east African nation. Microsoft also said it would contribute “tens of millions of smart devices” in consumers and small businesses by 2016, with a phone it co-designed with Huawei.Microsoft’s work is being done as part of its Microsoft4Afrika Initiative, which aims to bring 1 million African businesses online and assist up to 200,000 Africans by teaching them entrepreneurship and other business skills. The technology deployed in Africa could be eventually deployed in the U.S. So-called “white space” frequencies are the Wild West of radio, unlicensed spectrum not currently being used. As such, they run free of interference, which can improve their range and performance. Microsoft is teaming with Adaptrum to develop the base stations, while trying to convince local governments to adopt the technology continent-wide. Up to 6,000 people will eventually be served by the stations.In the U.S., the technology is slowly making its way through the FCC, as long as it doen’t impede licensed frequencies. The FCC is collecting “databases” of the available frequencies, so radio devices can stick to these white spaces.First World DisconnectSomewhat crassly, the video also includes scenes of Microsoft executives handing out Surface tablets to rural African students. The disparity between the brightly colored tablets and the packed dirt floors of the school does make one wonder whether Microsoft’s money could be better spent, until the students begin quickly flicking through the tablets, and apparently start learning. Indigo Telecom chairman’s metaphor of a “mist of information” floating over the school suddenly seems less hyperbolic. And yes, the kids can apparently use Windows 8.Microsoft will also co-develop a low-cost Windows Phone 8 phone with Huawei, the Asian developer who has specialized in low-cost phones. The phone looks like any other Windows Phone: it’s a customized version of the Ascend W1, launched at CES last month: 4-inch 480 x 800 touch LCD, 5 Mpixel camera, dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 and Adreno 305 GPU. More importantly, however, it can deliver up to 420 hours of standby time and 560 minutes of 3G talk time via aggressive power saving. The phone will initially be available in Angola, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa later this month. The Huawei 4Afrika phone, which is the first in a series of smart devices branded with “4Afrika,” will be targeted toward university students, developers and first-time smartphone users, the company said.It’s not the first smartphone designed for the continent. Safaricom and Intel launched the Yolo in Nairobi last month, powered by Kenya’s Safaricom.Microsoft’s Charity Track RecordGranted, it appears that Microsoft’s 4Afrika Initiative will place millions of Windows Phones and Surface devices into Africa as part of the program through the next few years. Cynics will chuckle snidely and call this dumping failed products into a market where they’ll never be seen again.That’s not the way it should be seen. Whether charity or investment, few companies take the time, or spend the money, to improve developing nations. Last September, Microsoft said it would “close the opportunity divide” through YouthSpark, funded by $500 million over three years.Between July 2011 and June 2012, Microsoft gave $900 million in cash and software to more than 62,200 nonprofits worldwide, Microsoft representatives said. Of this total, nearly $100 million in cash alone was donated to charities through the employee giving program. Since 1983, Microsoft employees have raised $1 billion in cash (inclusive of the company match) for more than 31,000 nonprofits and community organizations around the world. Kenya’s Daily Nationreported that Microsoft will spend the equivalent of $75 million as part of the 4Afrika Initative. That’s 6.52 billion Kenyan shillings.That kind of investment goes a long way in Africa.(Updated at 3:39 PM with additional comment from Microsoft.)center_img What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … markhachman You might think of this as a charity. It’s not. In fact, this project highlights an interesting dichotomy with how some people see efforts by charities like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, plus celebrities like Bono and Bob Geldof, who allegedly collect money for Africa, but don’t actually provide the means for Africa to grow – turning Africa into a “theme park for good intentions.”For Microsoft, this is about investment. “When we look at the world, many see China or the BRIC countries as the next big opportunity for growth,” Ali Faramawy, corporate vice president, for Microsoft Middle East & Africa, wrote in a blog post Tuesday. “At Microsoft, we view the African continent as a game-changer in the global economy.”So what is Microsoft doing besides just donating money? Building.Kenya Gets More BroadbandIn collaboration with the government of Kenya’s Ministry of Information and Communications and Indigo Telecom Ltd., Microsoft said it would launch a pilot project, dubbed “Mawingu,” delivering low-cost wireless broadband access to previously unserved locations near Nanyuki and Kalema, Kenya. The base stations use solar panels, often mounted on roofs, and conventional TV aerials, according to a video of the technology. The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technologylast_img read more