Georgetown, GINA, July 18, 2016
The re-organisation of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) is a matter for the Board of Directors of the revenue collection agency, and is meant to make the agency’s services more effective, Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan said.
Minister Jordan, speaking to the Government Information Agency (GINA) at his Main Street, Georgetown Office recently said that, “The re-organisation of the Guyana Revenue Authority is a matter of the board, not the minister. (The) minister is policy, the board gets the policy and interprets it for the management, and the management executes.”
Minister Jordan had indicated to GINA in May 2016, after the government’s first year in office that the GRA was in need of restructuring to make the institution more people- friendly and efficient.
“Corruption, whether real or perceived, is still rife in the department. Systems are non-existent, poor or not properly implemented in the agency and I think their PR in many ways could do a rehash. They do things to me, but it doesn’t get out the way how it should. People are still complaining… too long lines, VAT refunds are not coming in the way they should and so on. But having said all of that, I think they are responding, both to the new board and to myself in terms of the charges I have given to them at least on five or six occasions about where I want GRA to be and how I expect this to come about,” the Minister pointed out.
Responding to the question of whether or not there has been a change in policy at the revenue collection agency, Minister Jordan said, “You don’t have to change policy, what you do is re-organise for greater efficiency and effectiveness. You know from day one when we came in (to office) and even before we came in, GRA was a hot bed and when we came in we said (changes will take place)… the changes intended are going to be gradual over time.”
The Minister hastened to point out that changes are usually not readily accepted by all parties involved. “It (changes) will affect people, systems and procedures and some changes people would not like because they will touch on them or particular activity they might be involved in.”
Further, the Minister, responding to criticisms of the recent changes made at the tax collection agency said, it is important for someone to have the courage to oversee the changes necessary for the particular institution to function according to government’s policy. He said persons should desist from personal attacks and insinuations aimed at discrediting the work of the GRA Board Chairman.
“I just think we need to give GRA a chance to breathe rather than run them down. The way I see some people attempting to run them down, and sometimes you need somebody with the… we in local parlance say ‘guts’ to do some things and I don’t think the caricature and characterisation of Mr. (Rawle) Lucas is (good). I think it’s unwanted and somebody has to do the work and let us see if it works.”
Action taken by GRA’s governing board just recently resulted in the removal and reassignment of several high ranking staff.
Reports have surfaced in the media accusing the board chairman of creating a hostile and insecure environment for staff at all levels, resulting in low staff morale and motivation.