As the Guyana economy continues to show signs of stagnation, the country’s premier tax collection body – the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) – has reported that its revenue collection has taken a dip.This was revealed by Commissioner General, Godfrey Statia, at a press conference on Thursday at the authority’s Camp Street, Georgetown, office.“VAT (Value Added Tax) revenues are down at least 10 per cent and VAT revenues are down, both on the domestic side and on the import side,” he stated.GRA Commissioner GeneralGodfrey StatiaIn the same breath, however, the GRA Head pointed out that the VAT revenues are down simply as a result of the reduction in the rates. Government in its 2017 Budget slashed the value-added tax by two per cent, bringing it down to 14 per cent.According to Statia, the authority had expected that the revenue collection would go down based on the rate deduction by some 12.5 per cent. Nevertheless, he posited that with the move around of certain things to standard rating and the moving away from zero-rated to exempt taxes, there ought to have been an even out of the process.“But that is not achieved as yet and it is because it is early in the year… that is where we now need to go out and do our inspections and follow-up so that people know what is going on. But we have seen that downward trend and we are working on it because it is supposed to be revenue neutral,” the GRA head outlined.Moreover, in explaining the decline in the revenues, Chairman of the GRA Board of Directors, Rawle Lucas, pointed to the fact that the tax base for the VAT is expenditure, that is, money that people spend, the level of spending in the economy with respect to VAT and the level of input and the value of imports with respect to VAT as well.In fact, he outlined that with regard to imports, petroleum imports used to be one of the high generating sources of VAT revenues but since the price of petroleum reduced significantly, this in itself is also contributing to a reduction in the revenues earned by the Authority.Notwithstanding, the Chairman opined that it is still too early to ascertain the effect of the reduction of the VAT revenues.“In this stage for 2017, the analysis has not been completed to see where the greater effect is – whether it is a reduction in the tax base or whether it’s a consequence of the shifting of the threshold for VAT compliance/registration or whether it has something to do with the reduction of the rates,” Lucas argued.In the meantime, the GRA Commissioner General said the tax collection body is working assiduously to ensure that businesses and individuals are tax compliant in the relevant areas. Only recently, it was revealed that work of a special enforcement team has resulted in scores of city businesses being made to register for the payment of VAT.According to Statia at Thursday’s press conference, businesses all across the country have been engaged in this practice but it is more blatant among businesses in central Georgetown.“We know for sure there have been certain businesses in the Regent and Robb streets area that were not registered for VAT and were not paying the VAT. We have since taken measures to get into that area and register those persons.I think we’ve registered about 80 plus persons/businesses so far in that area alone,” he disclosed.The GRA Head hinted that the majority, if not all, of those unregistered businesses are owned by foreign nationals. He noted that they are going to go after all of them and even backdate all the years they have been here.“What we are actually looking at, I tell my staff, is the 360 degree approach. There are a lot of importers that do not charge the VAT. We do not check to see whether they’re registered for the VAT, and they import and they buy the US currency and they export and the economy doesn’t get anything from it,” he stated.According to the Commissioner General, the Revenue Authority has been using a series of information, even third party information, to identify and locate such businesses. In fact, he added the GRA has actually been getting information even from the business community.“People who have been actively paying their VAT, people who recognise that other people are not paying the VAT, who’ve recognised that they may be charging the wrong rates for the VAT – they’ve been calling us now and giving us all the information,” he revealed.Statia asserted that the Authority is enjoying this type of cooperation from the public and is looking forward to such support, since it is actually helping to level the playing field, which is what the GRA is all about and is trying to do.
Here are the top football headlines in Monday’s newspapers, with the Premier League sack race dominating the back pages…Chelsea could sack manager Jose Mourinho whether or not they beat Porto to stay in the Champions League this week. The Blues’ hierarchy are set to take action after the team’s EIGHTH Premier League of the season at the weekend. (Daily Mirror)It is claimed owner Roman Abramovich may act if the Blues lose to Porto and then against surprise league leaders Leicester next weekend. (The Sun)Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal’s job is NOT under threat should they exit the Champions League on Tuesday, despite the miss-firing Red Devils playing out a sixth 0-0 draw of the season on Saturday. (Daily Express) However, United will start their search for Van Gaal’s successor at the end of the season if, as expected, the Dutchman confirms he will retire at the end of his contract in 18 months. (Daily Telegraph) Yet, the club will still sit down with the Dutch manager in the New Year to determine whether the 64-year-old wishes to depart in 2017 or sign a fresh contract. (The Guardian) Meanwhile, Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola could be prepared to take a 12-month break from football to make sure he lands the Manchester United job. (The Sun) Swansea have opened talks with former Everton and Manchester United boss David Moyes about taking over from Garry Monk, who will be sacked after a run of seven defeats in 11 league games. (Daily Mirror) Alternatively, if Swansea decide to sack Monk, they could turn to former manager Brendan Rodgers, who has been out of work since his October departure from Liverpool. (Sun) The Reds Devils are planning a £50million swoop for Tottenham striker Harry Kane in the summer transfer window. (Daily Star)Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has warned off any potential interest for Hugo Lloris, insisting the goalkeeper is key to the future of the club. (Daily Express) ?Former Arsenal winger Robert Pires has called for the Gunners to sign Southampton midfielder Victor Wanyama, who he believes is “world-class material”. (Evening Standard)Arsenal target Adrien Rabiot, 20, has requested a loan move away from Paris Saint-Germain as he struggles to get game time at the Ligue 1 leaders. (L’Equipe) And here are the top talkSPORT.com headlines…Manchester United transfer news: Latest on Ibrahimovic, Cavani and Oxford rumoursRemi Garde reveals Jack Grealish will return to Aston Villa first-team training this weekSanti Cazorla undergoes knee surgery and could be facing four-month layoffJurgen Klopp accepts Newcastle fully ‘deserved’ victory over disappointing Liverpool side‘The responsibility for the bad moment is mine’ – Jose Mourinho concedes top four may now be beyond ChelseaJoe Hart refuses to blame Vincent Kompany’s absence for Manchester City’s shock defeat to StokeHugo Lloris demands Tottenham improvement after ‘tough’ West Brom drawChris Smalling admits Manchester United are ‘just as frustrated as the fans’ following dreary West Ham drawVideo: Franck Ribery scores but Bayern Munich’s unbeaten Bundesliga record left in tatters