Guyana Revenue Authority officials should not be sitting on the multi-agency task force investigating the alleged fraud involving GRA and Fidelity Investment
Stabroek News letter. Wednesday 7 May 2008
The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has appealed to the media to allow the multi-agency task force to carry out its investigations into the alleged fraud involving the GRA and Fidelity Investment in a professional manner and without bias. I fully support such sentiments. However, the GRA and the government do not seem to appreciate what it takes for a professional and unbiased probe. Over one week ago, and before the probe was completed, the GRA dismissed two members of its watchdog Internal Affairs Unit for alleged breach of the organization’s disciplinary code. This forced the Guyana Public Service Union to call for the reinstatement of the two workers since their dismissal violated the basic principles of natural justice in that no charges were ever read to the two workers.
This past week, all the remaining officers who were sent on leave to facilitate the probe, reported to the police station as is required. Three of those employed within the VAT Secretariat were then asked to report to the multi-agency team. Upon doing so the officers found to their utter amazement that the multi-agency team had been expanded to include two officers of the Guyana Revenue Authority. Yes, the very agency, the GRA, which is being investigated was represented on the multi-agency team. Even more distressing was the fact that one of the persons representing the GRA was just prior to the probe a senior officer of the Internal Affairs Unit which is responsible for overseeing the checks on the wharves.
The three officers were asked the usual questions which they were asked before and sent away. They were later dismissed and notices have appeared in the paper indicating that they no longer are associated with the GRA.
Why are GRA officials sitting with the investigating panel? How can the GRA be calling for the media to allow the multi-agency task force to carry out its investigations in a professional manner when the actions of the GRA are undermining the professionalism and independence of the probe team?