Guyana’s Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, says tax administration reform is needed now more than ever as the country prepares to go through a major economic transformation with the emerging oil and gas sector.
Speaking on Monday at the commissioning of a new container scanner site at the GNIC compound, Lombard Street, Georgetown, Minister Jordan said, “There is still a long way, with the coming of ‘first oil’ in the first quarter of 2020 the work of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) will expand greatly as we seek to ensure and safeguard our oil revenues.”
The Minister also encouraged those pessimistic about the benefits oil production could potentially bring to the South American country, to come forward and offer their expertise. “You hear all these doomsday about oil and so on… all these people predicting doomsday could at least lend their expertise to agencies like the GRA so that what they are predicting doesn’t come through.”
He said it is unfortunate that such a high level of negativity towards the emerging oil and gas industry exists in the society, “that we can’t even accept a good thing when the Lord has put it right in our hands.”
Nevertheless, he is hopeful that such attitudes will “diminish” as the oil revenues start flowing by 2020.
The Finance Minister added that the GRA will soon be boasting an oil and gas unit that will be staffed with the best professionals who will receive the highest training in the sector.
He stated that “By 2020 and beyond, the economy is projected to grow by at least 20 per cent and this is unheard of in the history of Guyana.” This, he said, will come with new challenges.
He added that the need for new laws and regulations as well as better implementation and enforcement will become even more pronounced.
Mr. Jordan restated that the Government has a clear mandate to ensure that tax reforms benefit the people of the country and in this regard, “there is no lack of political will.”
He said the revenue authority has already started the reform process and this would also include the soon to be operationalized Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA), which is a computerized system designed by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
“Stakeholders will be happy to know that they will be able to complete their transactions in the shortest possible time,” he stated.