Head of the Local Content Secretariat, Martin Pertab, by way of an affidavit filed in court, revealed that the review of an application by Ramps Logistics Guyana for a Local Content Certificate has been halted.
Pertab said this decision is premised on the fact that Ramps is facing 10 charges filed by the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) earlier this month for breach of the Customs Act. GRA had stated that the charges followed the outcome of investigations by its Law Enforcement and Investigations Division (LEID). It was found that during the period 2021 and 2022, the company made several untrue declarations.
Ramps has since rejected such statements as baseless. The company with Trinidadian roots said it enjoys tax-free waivers for work conducted with oil companies. Hence, there has been no loss of revenue to the State.
Pertab also told the court that GRA’s records also show that Ramps was accused of breaching the law in similar fashion before and opted to pay GRA a GY$20 million settlement.
Since the issuance of the Local Content Certificate would be used for the continuation of business for which GRA has flagged the company, Pertab said legal advice recommends that it awaits the outcome of those matters.
Pertab’s affidavit was filed as part of the State’s defence against a judicial review initiated by Ramps for the denial of a Local Content Certificate. Other named respondents to the case are Attorney General, Anil Nandlall SC and Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat.
In his affidavit in defence of the named respondents, Pertab recalled that it was in February that the portal for the Secretariat was made public, along with the list of requirements to obtain the certificate.
He said once an application is received, the Secretariat inputs the application into its electronic system which is set to issue a generic email to the applicants. Two emails, Pertab said, were sent in proximity on June 8, 2022, to Ramps in response to its application. One note stated that its application was received but a separate note said it was refused by the minister.
Pertab said the secretariat subsequently received two letters from Ramps’ legal team dated July 13 and July 14, 2022. These included purported documents namely amended articles of incorporation, share certificate in the name of Deepak Lall (the 51% owner of Ramps Logistics Guyana Inc.) and Resolutions, Share Register, audited financial statements for the period ending December 31, 2021, Annual Returns and a Beneficial Ownership Declaration form.
Pertab said the Secretariat requested other documentation to ascertain that what was reflected on the Share Certificate is actually in the Financial Statements of the company. The said statements, he contended, would also show that the shares were actually issued, their value and how much of their share capital was owned by shareholders.
By complying with this request, Pertab said it is implied that the company accepted that its first application was deficient. He said it did not, at that point, invoke the provision of a judicial review.
He said since the review process for Ramps was still ongoing, it was premature to initiate legal proceedings. In any case, the review is also affected by the charges which were filed by GRA. Pertab said, “An applicant for judicial review has the same duty of good faith of not approaching the court with unclean hands as does an applicant for equitable relief.”
Pertab also stressed that the absence of a certificate does not prevent a company from providing services, adding that there is no requirement by the Act to do so.
He therefore urged the courts for the matter to be struck out as it constitutes a “grave abuse of the court process” and is “misconceived in law”.