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City Council hopes to hammer out tax debt deal with Guyana Revenue Authority

A delegation of Georgetown City Councillors, Treasurer, Town Clerk and other officials were Wednesday morning hoping to negotiate with Commissioner of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Godfrey Statia the settlement of an almost GY$2 billion debt.

“We have to show them that out of the meeting we had at the Finance (Committee) level, from the Council’s perspective what we can do to be able to treat with those matters,” City Mayor Alfred Mentore said.

Ahead of those talks, City Councillors at Tuesday’s statutory meeting, agreed to offer an amnesty to property owners in Georgetown from October to November, 2023 in a bid to rake in at least GY$400 million to GY$500 million to help pay off some of the GRA debt. Mr Mentore said the aim is to demonstrate its willingness to pay.

Mr Mentore also wants the Council to ask Guyana Shore Base Inc and nearby businesses at Houston, East Bank Demerara to legally transfer their property valuation and instrument of sale which would pave the way for more revenue to be injected into the municipality’s coffers. “We’ll treat that as a project,” he said. “There are hundreds of millions of dollars we are not getting because they are noit coming forth at this time but we have to encourage them to come forth so we could get those monies in,” he said.

People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) Councillor, Patricia Chase Green objected to another amnesty, saying that to do was to violate a previous council decision that there would be no more amnesty for 2023. “To change back that system and open an amnesty to satisfy GRA is unacceptable,” she said. But, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Councillor, Gregory Fraser and Clayton Hinds supported another amnesty for this year, and eventually the idea was put to a vote and passed by a majority.

Mr Mentore categorically stated that the Council’s delegation would “at least say in good faith to GRA that these are the kind of monies we hope to get in….whatever we get at least we have some monies in good faith that we’ll be able to push to show that we are making intent to pay,” he said.

Mayor Mentore suggested to the Council that the City administration should explore getting government to settle its GY$1.9 billion “based on our records” as part of the municipality’s efforts to pay the GRA the debt of GY$1.4 million including late fees and interests amounting to more than GY$800 million. On the other hand, the government’s debt includes.

Already, Mr Mentore said he has asked “key persons in the government” to bring some financial relief to the council through “some kind of quid pro quo arrangement.”

City Hall’s delegation to the meeting with the GRA’s Commissioner General is expected to include Mayor Mentore, Chairman of the Finance Committee Lelon Saul, Vice Chairman of the Finance Committee Clayton Hinds, Councillors Troy Garraway and Jainarine Singh.