GRA to contest Banks DIH $28B law suit

THE Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) on Wednesday said it is prepared to “vigorously contest” the lawsuit filed by local beverage company, Banks DIH Limited, for over $28B for overpaying consumption taxes between 2001 and 2006. The entity in a statement to the media noted that as the second- named defendant, it is “fully prepared to vigorously contest this matter and looks forward to a thorough ventilation of the issues in a court of law.”
The entity however noted that it will respect the court’s jurisdiction in not litigating issues of the law via the media in relation to the law- suit made by Banks DIH Limited. Banks DIH has sued GRA for what it deems to be an overpayment of consumption taxes. According to the court documents filed on December 16, 2016, Banks DIH is claiming that it paid $12.8B in consumption tax, but that $9.09B of that amount was overpaid. The payment of the total amount was made between 2001 and 2006.
In a statement to the media, Commissioner-General of the GRA, Godfrey Statia, acknowledged being served on the said date by Banks DIH Limited and noted that the company is seeking declarations that consumption tax paid between 2001 and 2006 was paid under a mistake of the law. As a result, Banks DIH is seeking an order for repayment by the government of the said taxes.
“To date, the company has not filed its Statement of Claim in the matter,” said Statia, who noted that a Statement of Claim is a written statement by the plaintiff, in which he/she must state their case: the facts on which they intend to rely and the relief they seek, to the defendant and for the public record, for which they seek a civil trial and judicial determination.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, told reporters that companies must understand that in tax matters, the statute of limitation applies.
“You can’t sit on your rights and hope that the cost would keep increasing and then you come 10 years later… if you are overpaying tax, you have three months you must bring an action,” the Attorney General said.
The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has ruled that the GRA is an independent institution and not a government department, so the Attorney General whose remit it is to represent government departments cannot be named a party to any action.
“That’s why that case in fact was being handled by GRA – it is not a matter within my jurisdiction. I am not in a position to say whether it was proper or not when in settling matters there are many different considerations. I would trust that Senior Counsel Stoby had the right and proper considerations upper most in his mind when he and the GRA team dealt with that matter,” he said, referring to the Banks DIH lawsuit in which he was named as a defendant in the matter.
Asked whether by virtue of the CCJ ruling on the jurisdiction of the Attorney General in GRA matters, whether he would be assisting the Revenue Authority in their case, Williams said, “I would give all, any assistance that is necessary in protecting the government’s coffers, the taxpayers’ coffers and we are very confident that the case would be a proper case.”
He said a team of GRA attorneys visited his office on Wednesday and met with attorneys there but emphasised, “I don’t have custody of the case; I see they sued me —I am not the proper party, the GRA is.”


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