…will make decision based on principle, not politics – StatiaThe Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) is in the process of reviewing paperwork from the GTT; and if circumstances permit, the GRA will move to finalise cases in which the GTT purportedly owes some US$44.1 million in taxes.Commissioner-General of the Guyana Revenue Authority, Mr Godfrey Statia, related to media operatives during a press conference that he has been part of the negotiations, and had asked for documents from GT&T.“GT&T has submitted (the) information to me, and I’m going through theGRA Commissioner-General Godfrey Statiainformation,” Statia related. “I’ve asked them for some additional information, which they have yet to provide. As soon as it is provided, I am willing to finalise those cases. We need to recognise that this has been going on since 1991.”Statia stressed that time is of the essence, and if just half of the millions of US dollars owed were collected, the State would be in better financial stead. He also noted that since the issue is engaging the courts, a process has to be followed.“Taxation is based on principles. Anytime we decide to make it political, we have a problem. It must be above board, and everyone must be treated equally. If, in the negotiations which have been going on and which I am a part of, it reaches a level where the incumbent is trying to make it political, I immediately (recuse myself).”The Tax Chief noted that in the GTT Annual Report, the telecommunications giant had alluded toUS$41 million as its tax exposure or liabilities. “What I know is that, if you examine (this), you may realise that at some point all may be taxable and all may not be. So the maximum exposure they have stated is US$41 million,” he added.“But based on certain court decisions that were made in the past, if you follow that particular decision which has been appealed, they may probably have an exposure of half that amount,” Statia explained.The monopolyPublic Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes had on Monday reported that negotiations with GTT and its parent company in regard to lifting of the monopoly on the telecommunications sector have been fruitful. She added that one needed to take into context the fact that the companies have had the upper hand for over 20 years.Noting that both companies and the Government want to leave the negotiating table with the best deal, Hughes declined to give a timeline for its realisation in light of fruitful talks with GTT and its parent company, Atlantic Tele-Network International (ATNI).“If you recognise that GTT and ATNI have had a monopoly situation that has lasted for over 20 years, then you can understand that from the perspective of both parties, they want to ensure that they are coming to the table to get the best… At the end of the day, on the Government side, we want to ensure that we get the deal that is going to be good for the people of Guyana,” she explained.According to the Public Telecommunications Minister, GRA wanted to make sure that “they are covering all their bases from the financial end from taxes that would have been paid from things that could be offered to the sector as a whole; so, therefore, the focus is not on getting this done in the shortest space of time, but making sure that we come up with an end gain that suits everyone.”The liberalisation of the sector is heavily dependent on the settlement of a US$44 million tax claim against GTT. However, the company continues to enjoy the monopoly in international voice and data services until 2030.The company has said that should it be held liable for any of the disputed tax assessments totalling US$41.1 million, it is of the view that the Government would then be obligated to reimburse it for any amounts necessary to ensure a not-less-than 15 per cent return on investment.