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…as Commissioner General reveals imminent executive staff changesComing on the heels of multiple dismissals last month, it seems that the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) is likely to go through more staffing shakeups as the entity tries to enhance its efficiency.This was revealed by Commissioner General of the GRA, Godfrey Statia, during a recent press conference. Statia attributed this to the need for revamping the authority’s organisational chart.“During 2019, you’ll see some executive staff changes. The entire organisational chart would be revamped so that it would provide for more efficient operations. We would continue with the staff rotations and improvements.”“For the first time in 18 years, we have been able to put into place a performance appraisal system, whereby employees will be appraised now and on their past performance… that should be completed in March and they will then be in a position to get their increments.”Statia also spoke of a debunching system that would ensure a level playing field is created when it comes to remuneration for staff.“We have gone through and done a debunching exercise, whereby staff who have been complaining for years that those who enter with them have been getting the same pay as those who have been here for five, six or 10 years. We’ve gone through that exercise and we’ve remedied that and that is from December 31, 2018.”Statia also noted that they will continue to provide training for staff. The Commissioner General explained that while a number of Bachelor and Masters’ Degree holding persons are hired by the GRA, there still needs to be specialised tax training provided.Shake-upsIt was only last month that reports emerged of nearly a dozen customs officers being given their marching orders over alleged corruption. According to reports in sections of the media, investigations were being conducted since last year into these officers.It is understood that investigators had found instances of collusion, including the sidestepping of protocol when it comes to clearing goods. Nor is it the first time reports of a shake-up at the entity emerged.Last year, there was a reshuffling of several senior personnel in GRA… a reshuffling that touched some major departments including Customs, Excise and Trade operations, General Services and the Integrated Regional Tax Office.It is understood that for last year, GRA collected almost $199 billion in revenues as compared to the $171 billion that the Authority garnered in 2017. At his press conference, Statia had also revealed that the Authority only projected to collect $181 million for 2018.Internal revenue is understood to account for $88 million, while Customs and Trade administration raked in $23 million. GRA also collected arrears of $15 billion, but has to contend with a pile of court cases that have stagnated in the Judiciary.Guyana Stores LimitedOne outstanding matter is Guyana Stores Limited (GSL), which lost its court case against GRA concerning outstanding Corporation Tax payments totalling over $3 billion. The matter arose in 2012 when GSL refused to pay the money after a notice of demand was sent to the company.The GSL had moved to the local courts, but both the High Court and the Court of Appeal had ruled against them, and ordered that it pay the $3,807,346,397 in Corporation Taxes. The GSL then moved to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).However, the CCJ ruled that the two per cent Corporation Tax was not a forced loan, but the tax was constitutional. The CCJ stated that the Income Tax Act provides a specialised procedure for challenging assessments, and the GSL should have used that procedure.The CCJ had also held that the two per cent minimum Corporation Tax was not a loan, because the State does not repay the taxpayer, nor does the taxpayer have any right to repayment or redemption, which were crucial elements of any loan.However, Statia revealed at his press conference that the company has in fact paid up a large portion of the money and that the two sides are presently negotiating how the remainder will be paid.
…says lack of policy creating numerous challengesWork is ongoing at the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GL&SC) for the agency to develop a database of available land as well as a National Land Policy, all of which will make information on land more accessible to the public.The Guyana Lands and Surveys CommissionThis was announced by GL&SC Chief Executive Officer Trevor Benn during the agency’s end-of-year press conference. According to Benn, the database is being developed for Regions 2, 3, 4 and part of Region 7.“This work involves geo-referencing of the cadastral plans in order to show which areas have been surveyed and consequently which areas have not been and are vacant. A public vetting of the data for the Kuru Kururu residential area was conducted recently in order to verify the data in the Land Management System at the Commission”.“A well-functioning land information system would enable the Government to generate land-related statistics, make data-driven development decisions, and generally increase the efficiency in land management,” Benn also noted.When it comes to a National Land Policy and the legislative framework to support it, Benn noted that work is ongoing in this regard. According to him, the Commission’s Land Information and Mapping Division has held several rounds of consultations.Benn explained that from these consultations, the Commission received input from experts concerning the finalisation of the draft national policy. Once in place, he said, the policy will allow users to access the national database to research.“Currently, consultations with key stakeholders are taking place. Regional and national consultations will also be undertaken before the process wraps up. The policy will emerge out of an inclusive and highly-consultative process”.Benn explained that the lack of a national land policy has created challenges in tenure security and efficiency for many Guyanese. He noted that this situation has caused confusion about the responsibilities in land administration and management, and overlapping mandates.“The land policy will describe the national vision for the land sector, define Government and citizens’ rights and responsibilities and set priorities, as well as set out the legal basis for agencies of the land sector”.Previously, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) had called for the implementation of a land use policy, in the wake of the controversial allocation of land in Wales to two companies.Earlier this year, GL&SC was involved in a scandal after Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo called on President David Granger to answer to a massive distribution of prime State lands to certain employees of the Ministry of the Presidency, as well as to cronies in the PNC-led A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) fraction of the coalition government and officials of the State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA), which were supposed to recover State assets.Only recently, Extra Virgin Coconut Products (EVCP) and Amazonia Expert Services Incorporated (AESI) were the two companies who recently received 680 acres of land in Wales. The land, part of the now-closed Wales Sugar Estate, was leased to the partners for them to enter the coconut industry. According to Principal at AESI, Dr Arlington Chesney, the company wants the land to process coconut water, as well as dried and grated coconut for the Dominican market. However, one of the companies was only recently formed.Back in 2017, Government had announced plans to close the Enmore and Rose Hall Sugar Estates, sell the Skeldon Sugar Factory, reduce the annual production of sugar, and take on the responsibility of managing the drainage and irrigation services offered by GuySuCo.Subsequently, in November of that year, GuySuCo announced plans to retrench 2500 workers by the end of that year. Amid much criticism, over 7000 were retrenched, with some having to fight for the severance they were legally entitled to.Government then established the Special Purpose Unit (SPU) under the National Industrial and Commercial Investment Limited (NICIL) to take over the divestment of GuySuCo’s assets that were earmarked for sale.The SPU then recruited PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct a valuation of the assets to be privatised and divested. It is understood, however, that with the Government in a caretaker status after losing a No-Confidence Motion last year, that process has been suspended.With Wales’ estate also being closed, and some workers being given the option of transferring to Uitvlugt, there has been much interest in the land left behind, particularly for farmers. In fact, earlier this year, land from the Wales Sugar Estate was snapped up by local and overseas farmers and over a thousand acres of that land was put under rice cultivation.
160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Although we are loath to support any additional trash fees in Los Angeles, the latest might just be the exception to the rule. On Wednesday, the City Council approved a $1.28-per-unit tax on renters and landlords alike to pay for roving trash trucks that will pick up large items discarded around town. The fee closes a loophole in city policy — renters can dump heavy items without paying a price — while also meeting an important need, namely removing the eyesore of littered couches, desks and mattresses. City trash policy has long failed to properly account for renters, and this change is a step in the right direction. If only we could get a sound recycling policy for city apartments next …
As a Pakistani, Hamid Khan stood out among the Hispanics he marched alongside at a recent immigration law protest. When he told one demonstrator where he was from, the man responded: “Then what are you doing here?” Khan was surprised. “I said, Look, there are non-Latino groups who are also suffering under these laws,” said Khan, 49, a commercial pilot and director of an advocacy group called the South Asian Network. Hispanics, the nation’s largest immigrant group, are leading the movement to demand a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and defeat legislation that would criminalize them. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl eventKhan’s experience provides a glimpse into the ambiguous role non-Hispanic immigrants play in a public debate that has yet to fully include them. While some Asian, European and Middle Eastern immigrants are supporting calls for sweeping immigration reform, many who are here illegally have shied from the public debate either because they feel Congress has overlooked needs specific to their communities or simply because they’re afraid to come forward. Forty-eight percent of the nation’s 34 million foreign-born immigrants come from Asia, Africa, the Middle East and countries such as Canada, with the remainder coming from Latin America, according to the Census Bureau. But of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants, fully 78 percent come from Latin America, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. The next largest undocumented population comes from Asia, with 13 percent. While all illegal immigrants could benefit from proposals in Congress that would give them a chance at citizenship, many non-Hispanic immigrants say lawmakers should take into account their reasons for coming to the country illegally. “In the Latino community, people come here illegally for jobs,” said H. Chang, a 23-year-old Korean college student who asked her full name not be used because her parents are living in Los Angeles illegally. “For us, a whole family comes here for a student, and many stay illegally.” Discussions on increasing visas have focused on guest-worker programs for low-skilled laborers, not people like Chang’s parents. For Vietnamese immigrants, a central complaint is the waiting period before relatives are allowed to join them, which can be 10 years, said Duc Nguyen, a 31-year-old Vietnamese health worker who lives in Orange. He said he doesn’t see Congress considering that aspect. “Why are they (lawmakers) only doing a half reform?” asked Nguyen, who said he went to a few demonstrations but only to watch. A bill passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, which some Hispanic advocacy groups called a good compromise because it included steps to citizenship for illegal immigrants, also would fortify the borders, expand immigration detention centers and speed up deportation proceedings.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
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