… in response to calls for agreement to be adopted for other companiesBy Vahnu ManikchandChairman of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Rawle Lucas, has stated that cases of delinquentGRA Chairman Rawle Lucastaxpayers will have to be looked at individually before any determination can be made on whether it should be settled.He was at the time commenting on recent calls by the Private Sector Commission (PSC) for a similar procedure – used to resolve the longstanding legal battle on consumption taxes between Demerara Distillers Limited and GRA – to be adopted in dealing with other delinquent companies.“From the point of view of the Private Sector Commission, we wish to urge that the Guyana Revenue Authority now engage other aggrieved companies to apply similar formulae to correct the distortions in the market place resulting from this action,” the Commission said in a statement on Friday.However, in an invited comment, Lucas explained to Guyana Times that in its calls, the PSC is assuming that all delinquent companies have the same problems.“They are assuming that but I don’t know that everybody has the same problems… Was the DDL story the same, I don’t know. I have no idea as to what the cases are but all the cases can’t be the same, I know that for sure,” he stated.According to the GRA Chairman, the cases will have to be looked at individually before any decision can be made for a similar settlement, as was done with DDL. “One has got to look at every case by itself, take the matters case by case. It’s not something where you can just apply a rule,” he noted.Moreover, Lucas pointed out that persons have to also take into consideration that the GRA might have decided to settle the $5 billion debt with DDL because the matter probably constructed badly. “I have no idea if they have the same problem and remember the people who constructed the DDL problem, might have constructed it badly in the first instance. I don’t know if people are taking that into consideration,” he noted.When further probed whether the Consumption Tax assessment that was levied against the local beverage giant was indeed “badly constructed”, the Chairman declined to say, noting that he will not disclose information on any taxpayer’s case.“I don’t and I don’t expect the GRA to be discussing tax payers’ matters in the public. Notwithstanding the fact that DDL might have put a statement on the settlement, the details of that matter still remains private and we do not intend to disclose details of the matter,” Lucas remarked.Last week, DDL announced that it has reached an “amicable” settlement with the GRA thus resolving the longstanding legal battle between the two, which arose out of a Consumption Tax assessment levied against DDL by former Commissioner General Khurshid Sattuar in January 2009 to the tune of $5,392,020,753.However, the legal battle dated back to 2002, when the local beverage giant raised a legal challenge against the GRA on the methodology adopted by the latter for the assessment of Consumption Tax. In February 2005, the High Court found in favour of DDL. The GRA subsequently appealed that decision and on July 31, 2008, the Guyana Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed the GRA’s appeal.But the following month, GRA commenced a new assessment, this time, issuing a new claim billing the company a crippling $5.392 billion. This was again challenged by DDL in 2009 and the High Court had issued an Order Nisi pending the hearing of the matter.However, there has since been much speculation and condemnation of the transactions. Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had strongly condemned the transaction, calling it a “scandalous out of court settlement” that has cost the State billions of dollars in revenue.“The settlement sends the wrong message to the business community; that a company can unilaterally decide to stop paying taxes, while other companies comply with the law, take the matter to court and drag it out until a sympathetic Government comes to power and settles its debts to the State,” the former Guyanese President stated.Jagdeo further outlined that the settlement has opened the door for other companies to seek refunds on taxes paid. “There have already been reports in the Private Sector of other major companies consulting lawyers about this possibility. Management officials from a major local alcohol and beverage producing company have made it clear, in the past when I was President, that the company would be seeking a refund depending on the outcome of the DDL matter,” he noted.