September 1, 2014

Govt to grant more tax waivers to miners

GGDMA President Patrick Harding

GGDMA President Patrick Harding

More concessions are in store for miners, Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) President Patrick Harding disclosed during a recent interview with Guyana Times.

According to Harding, major suppliers within the mining industry will be soon granted concessions for a list of equipment by the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA).

“I have seen the list, so I think it is in the process of being approved,” he posited. With concessions being offered to major suppliers, it is expected that the costs of these equipment will be reduced significantly when sold on the local market.

Less than a week ago, President Donald Ramotar announced that duty-free concessions would be given for a “particular type of vehicle”. But concessions would be granted based on the amount of gold declared by miners and taxes paid. Questioned about the President’s announcement, Harding said this is a welcomed move, explaining that the recommendation was in the pipeline for an extensive period. Since August 2013, the GGDMA had called for the Government to assent to tax waivers on the importation of 4×4, 4 doors vehicles.

“It was explained that these vehicles are still being deemed as luxury items/vehicles and attract heavy import duties, although they are necessary for safe travel. They are often used to transport rations, spares, and personnel to and from mining operations. “Opened back vehicles are not safe, persons could fall out and now we have a lot of women in the industry, so that is surely welcome,” he posited.

In July, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry announced a menu of measures that are expected to cushion the impact of falling gold prices. At the time, subject Minister Robert Persaud indicated that more than $1.5 billion will be expended on road repairs within the six mining districts of Guyana.

Additionally, he disclosed that the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) has granted a licence to the GGDMA for importation and distribution of fuel. The regulations that will govern this transaction however are still being worked out.

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Citizens Bank records $546M half-year profit

Citizens Bank Managing Director Eton Chester

Citizens Bank Managing Director Eton Chester

Citizens Bank Guyana Inc has recorded a whopping $880 million profit before tax in its quarterly Financial Report ending June 30.

According to the bank’s financial document published in the newspapers on Saturday, after a deduction of $333 million it managed to gain $546 million after tax profit after six months when compared to the $512 million recorded for the same period last year.

The documents placed the company’s cash flow at $4.1 billion for the six months, an increase of $1.7 billion over last year’s. In the bank’s annual report ending December 2013, there was a profit after tax of $1 billion when compared to $82.2 million from the previous year.

The Managing Director, Eton Chester, had stated that the construction of Citizens Bank’s state-of-the-art headquarters at Camp Street, Georgetown, will be its major project for 2014 and was expected to gain momentum. However, no update was given on the process of the project in recently-published financial records.

Meanwhile, Clifford Reis, Chairman of Banks DIH, Citizens Bank’s parent company, had said that in addition to its main office, the commercial bank will be expanding its branch and ATM networks. He was optimistic that such investments would improve customer convenience while simultaneously increasing benefits for stakeholders. “The launch of our e-banking service and Visa International Credit and Debit Cards respectively will be in addition to other value-added services we intend to offer during fiscal 2014,” Reis added.

Net growth

Managing Director Chester was positive that Guyana’s economy will grow thereby having a positive impact on commercial banks, and Citizens Bank will be no exception. “Intense competition among commercial banks and non-bank financial institutions, excess liquidity in the banking system and declining interest rates are expected to continue in fiscal 2014,” he posited.

Reflecting on 2013, Chester said net interest income stood at $2.2 billion at the end of the last financial year when compared to $1.9 billion in 2012. The bank’s ability to increase its loan portfolio and reduce the cost of deposits were among contributing factors to the growth in net interest income.

“Interest income is the most significant contributor to the bank’s net operating income, accounting for 85.8 per cent compared to 82.7 per cent in 2012,” the Managing Director explained. Net loans and advances increased by $2.2 billion, moving from $21.5 billion to $23.7 billion in 2013. In 2013, significant growth was recorded in loans to the household and manufacturing sectors, which grew by 30 per cent and 23.5 per cent respectively. According to Reis, loans for housing grew by 12.6 per cent and the services sector grew by 7.3 per cent.

Other income declined from $409.1 million to $376 million. This nine per cent decrease was linked to a decline in foreign currency transactions. Earnings from foreign currency transactions, the major contributor to other income, declined by 20.5 per cent from $243.5 million to $193.6 million due to a decline in volume traded and lower spreads on transaction. Meanwhile, net operating income increased by $158.5 million or 6.7 per cent to $2.5 billion, compared to $2.4 billion recorded in 2012.

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Khurshid Sattaur reports Glenn Lall to Police

One of the vehicles seized from the home of Navin Sankar, a close friend of Glenn Lall

One of the vehicles seized from the home of Navin Sankar, a close friend of Glenn Lall

Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) Commissioner General Khurshid Sattaur has confirmed making a report to the Police, after seeking legal advice about the alleged threats which Kaieteur News Owner and Publisher Glenn Lall made to him on Friday evening.

This newspaper reported Sunday that Sattaur was seeking legal advice on the threats, which were reportedly meant to dissuade the GRA from pursuing an investigation into an alleged duty-free scam. Attorney General Anil Nandlall confirmed speaking with the Commissioner General, but said he was awaiting a report along with whatever necessary supporting documentation.

After seizing two Lexus L570 SUVs which were reportedly being driven by Lall and his wife, Bhena, Sattaur said the GRA remains steadfast on its course to investigate the alleged tax fraud amounting to some $102 million.

At this stage, the investigation is focused on the Lalls; one of his close friends who is a GRA officer, Navin Sankar; and Narootandeo and Gharbassi Brijnanan, a remigrant couple residing on the Corentyne, Berbice.

Kaieteur News Publisher  Glenn Lall

Kaieteur News Publisher
Glenn Lall

It is being alleged that Lall conspired with the other parties to import the two luxury vehicles under the remigrant scheme. In doing so, no customs and excise taxes were paid to the GRA.

The Brijnanans were on July 3, 2013 granted permission by the Foreign Affairs Ministry to return to Guyana as “remigrants”, along with the concomitant incentives of the remigrant scheme.

Under the programme, Guyanese who have resided overseas for more than five years may return home with a number of benefits. These include an import duty-free waiver for vehicles and tax exemptions for household items, once these are owned for six months or more.

The launch of the investigation reportedly prompted Glenn Lall to threaten Sattaur.

Sattaur explained that “if one were to apply the rate of taxes – 45 per cent duty, 140 per cent excise, and 16 per cent VAT to the correct value of about US$85,000 for each vehicle, then the taxes under normal circumstances for these vehicles would have attracted a sum of US$251,000 or G$51 million each.

GRA Commissioner General Khurshid Sattaur

GRA Commissioner General Khurshid Sattaur

He refuted Glenn Lall’s claims that the matter was being pursued only because the Kaieteur News recently carried articles about duty-free concessions to a Chinese logging company Baishanlin.

Sattaur told Guyana Times that to begin with, no one is saying that Baishanlin is obtaining concessions on its own behalf and handing such concessions to others to use.

“If that were the case, you would have seen GRA immediately mounting an exercise not dissimilar to what we witnessed over the weekend to seize the items involved,” he said.

Sattaur maintained that the GRA has a duty to keep information on the concessions the logging company received by virtue of its approved investment agreements very confidential.

“This will be done in the same way GRA will keep the information on duty-free concessions the candy-making company, a related company of Kaieteur News, obtained from the Government confidential,” he noted.

He said also that Baishailin is not guilty of falsifying import documents just in order to qualify for  concessions, as appears to be the case with the two vehicles .

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1 dead, 3 injured as pickup truck ploughs into mango tree at Alness

One person is now dead and three others seriously injured after a speeding 4×4 pickup truck veered out of control and struck an elderly man on the Alness Public Road, Corentyne, Sunday evening.

Dead is Roy DeSouza 66, called Basha of Alness Village. He was reportedly of unsound mind, but was described as a very friendly and helpful person who had a soft spot for children. The accident occurred at 18:30h.

According to an eyewitness, the vehicle, GPP 8240 – a yellow Toyota pickup with super-sized wheels giving it a ‘monster truck’ appearance – was speeding when suddenly the driver swerved and hit DeSouza. The impact sent him flying through the air before crashing into a fence and tearing it down; he reportedly died on the spot. The vehicle continued on, hitting a parked trailer into a trench before launching into the air and ending up in a mango tree. The vehicle was suspended in the tree and portions had to be chopped to facilitate the vehicle’s return to the ground.

According to the eyewitness, the driver and the other two occupants were thrown out of the vehicle. The driver, 19-year-old Vinesh Babulall of Number 46 village, ended up on the side of the road in an unconscious state, while his brother, 17-year-old Udi Babulall landed some distance away. The elder brother had his feet broken, while the younger received serious head injuries. The female occupant, identified only as “Priya” of Tain, Corentyne, had her legs crushed.

They were picked up by public-spirited persons and rushed to the Anamayah Hospital. Udi Babulall was later transferred to the New Amsterdam Hospital.

The trio were reportedly heavily intoxicated.

According to the eyewitness, the vehicle was seen from a distance “blazing through”.

He went on to say, “After the truck hit down the old man, like the driver lost control and he end up in the tree, all I see is them people pitch out and the people pick them up quick.”

Another person at the scene related that after she heard the impact, she rushed out only to see three persons lying by the side of the road covered in blood. “My nephew pick up the two who were badly injured and rushed them to the hospital. All of them were drunk, they were smelling of alcohol; the girl didn’t even know what happen till she reach the hospital,” the woman claimed.

At the hospital, family members gathered to get a glimpse of the injured and offer support. According to one relative, the trio had left earlier in the day to go to the beach.

There were reports that the driver swerved to avoid hitting a car that was coming out of a street when he lost control of the pick-up. The Police are investigating the accident.

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Rice farmers not utilising value-added option

… rice/fish culture touted as profitable venture

BY TAJERAM MOHABIR

Some farmers say that with help from Government, they are willing to engage in the rice/fish culture to supplement their income

Some farmers say that with help from Government, they are willing to engage in the rice/fish culture to supplement their income

Given the series of protests of Essequibo rice farmers in the first crop, and with no indication that the prices for paddy will increase in the coming crop, farmers are left to explore their options to stay in business while remaining profitable.

The challenge of timely payments by millers, which activated the protests, has long been a sore issue, with numerous calls for the matter to be stridently addressed.

Encouragingly, Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) General Manager Jagnarine Singh has promised to tighten the Rice Factories Act, giving some hope to farmers.

In light of the protests, one politician had also called for the establishment of a Revolving Fund, so that farmers will be paid on time by millers.

Government has also spent billions of dollars to cushion the impact of dipping prices for rice and rising prices for fertilisers to ensure farmers enjoy a comfortable livelihood.

But the assistance does not seem to alleviate the problems confronting the industry, in a manner that would put farmer on a sound financial footing while making maximum use of their fields.

Some time back, the idea of the rice/fish culture (the rearing of fish in rice cultivation) was floated and implemented but soon after died an unannounced death.

Sources say that aside from some issues such as availability of fingerlings and farmers rearing on a large scale, which is not ideal, the farmers did not seem too inclined to diversify production.

According to Doodnauth Samaroo, Chairman of the National Aquaculture Association of Guyana (NAAG), which today is a mere paper organisation, the initiative fell through, as it was not practical.

Can work

Local farmers can capitalise on the lucrative US market

Local farmers can capitalise on the lucrative US market

However, a Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) study conducted here during 2004-2006 has proven otherwise.

In East Berbice, Corentyne, where the study was conducted, the average rice yield of conventional rice farmers was about 24 bags per acre, but this increased to 28 bags.

“Farmers harvested an increased rice yield from the rice-fish plot. The average production of rice from seven rice-fish plots was 47 bags per acre….

“This significant increase can be attributed to the elevated attention that farmers provide to the crop in the generally smaller rice-fish plots, but also to the positive impact of the fish themselves as well as the fish farming practices favouring better growth of the rice plants,” the report stated.

Another FAO report, this time in 2013, stated that China remains the world’s largest producer of tilapia and the largest supplier to the European market. Tilapia production continues to interest some countries in Africa, Asia and Latin American for supplying emerging domestic demand.

Demand

European demand for freshwater fillets is currently stable but expected to increase over time. US imports of tilapia, especially frozen fillets, increased in 2012 after a low season in 2011, but dipped again slightly during the first quarter of 2013.

 As the biggest market for Chinese tilapia, the US absorbed 60 per cent of Chinese exports in 2012. Availability of certified tilapia is projected to stimulate demand for tilapia fillets in European and North American markets where consumer demand for private certification of seafood products is on the rise, the FOA said.

Sase Persaud, a rice farmer from Lima on the Essequibo Coast said, generally, it costs a farmer some $119,000 to produce one acre of rice, of which $79,000 accounts for expenditure and $40,000 in profit.

According to Samaroo, it takes about two pounds of feed, costing $170 to produce one pound of tilapia, which is sold at $400.

Mukesh Goberdhan, a farmer from Cullen, Essequibo Coast said he had tried rearing tilapia in his rice field but stoped because of lack of available markets.

However, Samaroo pointed out that there is a demand on the local market and local fish farmers can also, through the local trade agencies, tap into the multimillion dollar markets in the US and the Europe.

An Agriculture Ministry official told this publication that given that the rice/fish culture ideally should be on a small-scale, farmers will have to form themselves in groups to ensure sustainability if they secure an overseas market.

A number of farmers on the Essequibo Coast told this publication, that with help from Government, they are willing to engage in the rice/fish culture to supplement their income and ensure a more secured livelihood.

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Glenn Lall accused of tax fraud

– GRA seizes vehicles
– Sattaur mulls legal action following “threats”

Glenn Lall

Glenn Lall

After being reportedly threatened Friday night by Glenn Lall, Owner and Publisher of Kaieteur News, Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) Commissioner General Khurshid Sattaur said he is engaging Attorney General Anil Nandlall on what legal options could be pursued.

Sattaur told Guyana Times that he is awaiting the advice of the Attorney General, with whom he spoke on Saturday, as well as his private lawyers, before deciding what next steps to take against Lall.

Nandlall confirmed the conversation with Sattaur and explained that he will be examining the report in the coming days.

Lall and a GRA employee are currently implicated in a scam, allegedly robbing Government of millions of dollars in import duty on two 2013 Lexus Suburban L57 SUVs brought into the country by remigrants. Lall is listed as the closest relative of the remigrant on documents submitted.

Lall allegedly threatened Sattaur on Friday to use his newspaper to destroy the character of the GRA Head. “Lall called me from an overseas number and threatened to expose me, as if I’m a thief, and it is because I am using my office to deal with the matters I normally deal with.

“I don’t know what wrong I am doing if I am trying to do the Government’s work. I don’t know why people should be upset, if they are doing wrong things,” explained Sattaur.

The GRA Head further charged that it would seem as though Lall considers himself above the law. “It seems like Lall is not subject to the laws of this country like anyone else,” he said.

Sattaur said Lall apparently contacted him in an effort to intimidate him to not pursue the investigation. But the GRA Head said all the threat did was to strengthen his resolve to get to the bottom of the issue.

The GRA is currently in the middle of an investigation in which Government is believed to have been cheated out of $40 million in import duty for vehicles that were being driven by Lall and his wife, Bhena, the owner of Bhena’s Footwear.

The Kaieteur News branded canter

The Kaieteur News branded canter

The alleged scandal involving Lall came to the fore after extensive investigation was done by another media house. It appears that Lall was at the centre of the remigrant scam involving a Guyanese couple who returned home, importing vehicles under the guise of ownership.

Former President of Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Clinton Urling said that while he is not aware of the specifics of this case, the GRA is empowered under the law to probe any alleged wrongdoing for the evasion of taxes.

He explained that once the GRA conducts a full probe and there are actions to be taken within the confines of the law, then there must be full cooperation by the defaulter, regardless if it is Lall or anyone else.

Urling strongly warned against attempts by media operatives, their publishers, or owners to intimidate public officials while they are executing their lawful duties.

“I condemn this in the strongest possible forms. No media house must be used as a weapon against any businessman or public official,” he said, when asked about his position on the statement made by the GRA Head that he was threatened by Lall.

Several other businessmen and public officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, expressed their satisfaction with the manner in which the GRA has conducted this investigation, while also condemning attempts by Lall to silence Sattaur.

“I think Lall and those close to him, if they are involved in fraudulent activity directly or indirectly, are getting what they deserve. If they can preach transparency and wage war against corruption from one side of their mouth, while enjoying the spoils of backdoor activities through the other side, then it is time for someone to expose him,” Urling said strongly.

Efforts by a team of GRA officers to seize the two Lexus L57 SUVs in question on Friday evening proved futile after the implicated employee, a close aquaintance of Lall, refused to allow them entry to the property to uplift the vehicles.

The two vehicles in the GRA storage facility at Eccles

The two vehicles in the GRA storage facility at Eccles

The employee refused to allow them entry and this continued until Saturday afternoon when he was forced to relinquish the vehicles, supposedly in light of the consequences of his actions.

It was not until then that the employee and another individual drove the vehicles in close tow by law enforcement officials to a GRA storage faclility in Eccles Industrial Site, East Bank Demerara.

Earlier on Saturday, when Guyana Times arrived at Lot 8 Continental Park, East Bank Demerara – the address on the registration forms for the vehicles – the GRA employee ventured outside to engage some of the media houses present. While there, the media observed the coming and going of several vehicles.

At one stage, a canter truck bearing a Kaieteur News identification tag drove up to the home and proceeded to park across the bridge, blocking the gate. This was done in an apparent attempt to hinder view of the home, and also to block anyone from attempting to remove the two Lexus SUVs parked in the yard.

After spending some time on the bridge, the canter truck was moved. Subsequently, the two vehicles were driven out of the compound to the GRA storage facility at Eccles.

Guyana Times subsequently spoke to Sattaur who explained that the employee decided that he would hand over the vehicles to the GRA. Sattaur said the vehicles will be examined as part of the investigation.

This issue started with husband and wife Narootandeo and Gharbassi Brijnanan, who were on July 3, 2013 granted permission by the Foreign Affairs Ministry to return to Guyana as “remigrants”, along with the concomitant incentives of the Remigrant Scheme.

Under the programme, Guyanese who would have resided overseas for more than five years may return home with a number of benefits. These include an import duty-free waiver for vehicles, and tax exemptions for household items, once these are owned for six months or more.

As husband and wife, Narootandeo and Gharbassi Brijnanan were entitled to concessions as two separate individuals, although a joint application was submitted.

The Brijnanans, on their application form, indicated that besides household items, they were returning with two Lexus SUVs, the chassis numbers of which were listed along with other required information. One chassis number, however, did not match what was in the original application.

Lall was listed as the closest relative of Narootandeo Brijnanan on the application form. The Brijnanans gave as their address in Guyana 221 Number 61 Village, Corentyne, Berbice.

The Brijnanans obtained a duty-free concession for each vehicle, totalling in excess of $40 million.

The GRA Licence Revenue Processing System (GRA -LRPS) form indicates that the licence plate numbers for the two vehicles are PRR 8398 and PRR 8399, which up to recently were being driven by Lall and his wife, Bhena.

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Corentyne family beaten, robbed; females raped

Two persons are in Police custody following a robbery and alleged rape committed on a family living on the Corentyne.

The incident occurred approximately 21:00h on Tuesday. In a case that sent shockwaves through the small community, four men, three of whom were masked, pounced on the family of five who were securing their premises.

According to information received, the businessman operates a small grocery business and was about to close for the night when the four men entered the yard from a side fence.

Upon entering the business place, three of the four men who were armed with handguns and the other with a cutlass, reportedly tied the businessman’s hands behind his back and left him in the shop.

The men then went into the house and took out the four ladies, his wife, 33, and daughters, ages 18, 15 and 14 and sexually assaulted them.

They reportedly took turns in committing the acts. After they were done, they stripped the ladies of their jewellery, took away their cellphones and demanded cash. Already in fear, the businessman’s wife handed over $50,000 to the bandits.

The male occupant after managing to free himself, quickly called the Police, who responded promptly. As bandits were about to leave the home, the Police arrived, resulting in an exchange of gunfire, but the men successful escaped.

The Police later intercepted a motor car suspected to be the getaway car. The driver is presently in custody assisting with investigations.

The bandit who was not wearing a mask during the robbery was also identified, reports say.

According to reports, the men are not from the area.

In light of the horrific incident, acting Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud visited the family’s home, offering the Force’s commitment to ensuring that the perpetrators are caught and brought to justice.

The acting Commissioner related that the family has been receiving counselling.

The Police are continuing their investigations.

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CIOG fetes children at fun day

Students proudly display their certificates at the annual Orphans and Vulnerable Children’s Fun Day hosted by the Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana (CIOG) in collaboration with the Zakaat House of Kuwait, on Saturday. The event was held at the Muslim Youth Organisation, Woolford Avenue, Georgetown

Students proudly display their certificates at the annual Orphans and Vulnerable Children’s Fun Day hosted by the Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana (CIOG) in collaboration with the Zakaat House of Kuwait, on Saturday. The event was held at the Muslim Youth Organisation, Woolford Avenue, Georgetown

The Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana (CIOG), in collaboration with the Zakaat House of Kuwait, on Saturday held its annual Orphans and Vulnerable Children Fun Day at the Muslim Youth Organisation, Woolford Avenue, Georgetown.

The occasion was also the graduation ceremony for the students who excelled at the recent National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) and the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations.

The CIOG initiated the Orphans and Vulnerable Children Sponsorship Programme in 1993.

The programme started with 14 children, but now have 365 students. The children during the fun day had a jolly time, playing various games and enjoying a sumptuous lunch and snack.

Zakaat House of Kuwait representative in Guyana Sheik Moen ul-Hack told Guyana Times that all the students who sat the examinations did well.

He stated that the organisation has helped many students from various religious backgrounds, be it Christian, Islamic or Hindu.

Ul-Hack stated that each child receives a monthly stipend, school clothes and gear, textbooks, medical examinations, medications and financial assistance for extra lessons and exam fees.

These items are donated by members of local communities, Guyanese living in the USA, Canada and United Kingdom, the West Indies and a foreign Islamic Organisation in Kuwait.

Culture, Youth and Sport Minister, Dr Frank Anthony presenting a certificate to one of the successful students

Culture, Youth and Sport Minister, Dr Frank Anthony presenting a certificate to one of the successful students

The programme is an ongoing one and students are urged to make use of the help and guidance being offered by the CIOG and the Zakaat House of Kuwait. The door is always open to extend a helping hand to such students. The occasion was addressed by Culture, Youth and Sport Minister, Dr Frank Anthony.

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Glenn Lall threatens Khurshid Sattaur

Kaieteur News Publisher  Glenn Lall

Kaieteur News Publisher
Glenn Lall

Remigrant scam deepens…

Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) Commissioner General Khurshid Sattaur said last evening that publisher of Kaieteur News Glenn Lall of issued grave threats to him on the phone following the publication of a story in which he (Lall) was pin pointed in a scam robbing Government of import duty on two luxury SUVs.

The GRA is currently in the middle of an investigation in which the Government was cheated out of $40 million in import duties for vehicles that are being driven by Lall and his wife Bhena, who is the owner of Bhena’s Footwear.

Sattaur told Guyana Times that Lall contacted him Friday evening in an effort to intimidate him not to pursue the investigation. But the GRA head said all the threat did was to strengthen his resolve to get to the bottom of the issue.

“Glenn Lall called me from an overseas number and threatened to expose me; he threatened to deal with me in a matter, as if I’m a thief and he’s going to do this thing because I am using my office to deal with the matters I normally deal with.

“He threatened to use his newspaper to expose me; I don’t know what wrong I am doing. If I am trying to do the Government’s work…. I don’t know why people should be upset, if they are doing wrong things they should be subject the laws as well,” explained Sattaur.

GRA Commissioner General Khurshid Sattaur

GRA Commissioner General Khurshid Sattaur

The GRA Head further told Guyana Times that from his conversation with the newspaper publisher, it would seem as though Lall considers himself above the law and not subject to the same laws as every Guyanese.

“It seems like Mr Glenn Lall is not subject to the laws of this country like any one else,” Sattaur said.

The scandal involving Lall came to the fore after extensive investigation was done by another media house. It appears that Lall was at the centre of a remigration scam involving a Guyanese couple who returned to Guyana, importing vehicles under the guise of ownership.

Documents obtained indicate that this issue started with husband and wife Narootandeo and Gharbassi Brijnanan, who were on July 3, 2013 granted permission by the Foreign Affairs Ministry to return to Guyana as “remigrants”, along with the concomitant incentives of the scheme.

Under the remigrant programme, Guyanese who would have resided overseas for more than five years may return home with a number of benefits. These include an import duty-free waiver for vehicles, and tax exemptions for household items, once these are owned for six months or more.

As husband and wife, Narootandeo and Gharbassi Brijnanan were entitled to concessions as two separate individuals, although a joint application was submitted.

The Brijananans, on their application form, indicated that besides household items, they were returning with two 2013 Lexus Suburban L57 vehicles, the chassis numbers of which were listed along with other required information. One chassis number however did not match what was in the original application.

Lall, was listed as the closest relative of Naratootandeo Brijnanan on the application form. The Brijnanans gave as their address in Guyana 221 Number 61 Village, Corentyne Berbice.

What would have occurred is that the Brijnanans successfully obtained duty-free concession for each vehicle, totalling in excess of $40 million.

The GRA License Revenue Processing System (GRA -LRPS) form indicates that the licence plate numbers for the two vehicles are PRR 8398 and PRR 8399, which are driven by Lall and his wife, Bhena.

Lall has been a widely accused backtracker for some time now. He was also named by the US authorities as having translated a shoe trading business and involvement with alien smuggling into a muckraking newspaper, and has a finger firmly on the pulse of Guyana’s criminal underworld, which serves his media enterprise well.

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Granger told to return missing weapons

President Donald Ramotar

President Donald Ramotar

President Donald Ramotar is calling on Opposition Leader David Granger to return the 155 weapons that went missing from the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) while he was the Commander, after being issued to the People’s National Congress (PNC) Government in the 1970s.

At a media conference on Friday at the Office of the President, Ramotar said he expects Granger would make some genuine effort to return the weapons. “I know that when some of the weapons were missing that some of the present-day activists in the PNC, one was heading the army and one was heading the Police Force, so maybe they can help now. We know where the weapons went and how they can get it back to us,” he said.

On Tuesday at the Commission of Inquiry into the death of Historian and Working People’s Alliance (WPA) Leader, Dr Walter Rodney, it was revealed that of the 237 weapons issued by the GDF in the 1970s to the PNC, some 155 weapons were still outstanding. This revelation was made by head of the Intelligence (G2) Unit of the GDF, Lieutenant Colonel Sydney James, as he also testified that while those guns have not yet been recovered, no word has been given for searches to be carried out for their recovery.

President Ramotar noted that in many cases, those missing weapons and ones that went missing subsequently were found in the hands of the criminal community.

“During the crime spree, the 31 AK-47s that went missing – this is a lot of weapons that are out there at this point in time and these weapons have found themselves in the hands of criminals. Already you have seen from that bunch that was given to the PNC, that some were found in the hands of criminals when you had the shootout at Mahaica/Mahaicony during the crime spree,” the President said. In 2008, following a shootout with criminals, the Police recovered a number of weapons and ammunition, which were traced to those issued by the Army to Wilfred Skeete on July 6, 1978 and to Robert Corbin on May 19, 1976, under the National Development Ministry.

Opposition Leader David Granger

Opposition Leader David Granger

Ramotar stressed that “… the five escapees made their break, they didn’t break and enter into any army, but yet they were very, very well-equipped with weapons.” The President noted that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has been saying, for a long time, there is a connection between the Opposition party and crime in Guyana. He even opined that the situation in Buxton would not have lasted as long as it did, had there not been political support in the community to drive the illegal activities. The President continued that his Government was now left to struggle with the impact that the era of crime has left on the country. He expressed his satisfaction with the fact that all of these details are being revealed at the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry, particularly that the weapons given to the PNC are being found in the criminal community.

“The Leader of the Opposition likes to talk about Commissions of Inquiry of everything else other than those things that are important for the country,” the President stated. Additionally, Ramotar disclosed that over the years, his government has made a lot of efforts to locate the missing weapons.

He noted that law enforcement agencies are continuously engaged in efforts to recoup not only these weapons but all the illegal weapons on the road. “All the illegal weapons in society, all the illegal weapons in the hands of criminals, it is the task of the law enforcement agencies to continuously work to try and get them back,” he mentioned.

Questioned about whether anyone was penalised for not being able to relocate the missing weapons, the President responded in the negative, saying no one was disciplined in his time. He further stated that he has not questioned former Army Leaders Joe Singh and Michael Atherly, stating that they probably do not have any information other than what is already known in public.

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