With five sanctioned projects in the Stabroek Block, and a sixth in the pipeline for review, the Government of Guyana has mandated its regulators to establish a special oil and gas auditing unit to keep track of the growing pool of expenses. This was revealed by Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo. He said the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has been given the clearance to create a unit that will specialise in oil audits.
Jagdeo also noted that such a move is in keeping with the government’s push to not only build capacity but have more Guyanese in the driver’s seat for cost control.
“(GRA Commissioner General, Godfrey) Statia has full authority to establish a unit in GRA…I know they are building a unit and they are doing a lot of training of staff already,” the Vice President stated.
In fact, multiple training sessions were held by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the last two years to help build GRA’s capacity to administer domestic taxes within the oil and gas sector. These sessions covered statutory interpretations, taxation of subsidiaries and external companies in Guyana, identifying the taxpayer and taxable sources of income, risks to an understatement of chargeable income, and taxation of resident and non-resident companies.
GRA also remains in an active recruitment of experts to conduct petroleum tax audits, data analysis, and effective monitoring aboard the nation’s floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessels.
While that in-country capacity is being built, Jagdeo noted that government is utilising a hybrid arrangement of pairing local auditors with foreign specialists. He recalled that the recently concluded audit of US$7.3 billion in expenses incurred by ExxonMobil Guyana from 2017 to 2020 is a reflection of this. The contract was awarded back in May 2022 to VHE Consulting, a registered partnership between Ramdihal & Haynes Inc, Eclisar Financial, and Vitality Accounting & Consultancy Inc. They were supported by International firms – SGS and Martindale Consultants which did most of the heavy lifting.
Such an arrangement allows for the transfer of technical knowledge to Guyanese, who the government hopes can fully take command of these audits in the coming years.