Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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Minister Kowlessar
(Aired 9 September 2001)

In the chronicle of Wednesday September 5th 2001, the Minister of finance accuses me of peddling half-truths and misinformation.

    These allegations I can handle, but telling me that I am jumping on the bandwagon of those who want to attack poor Mr. Tiwari is by far the most outrageous aspect of the minister's response, does the minister not know that B.K. Tiwarie is regarded by all the other contractors in this country as being an outrage? That they have set up a committee headed by Mr. Rose and Mr. Rayman to address these matters? How long did the Minister believe that this can of worms would have remained unopened? Forever? Has the Minister's contempt for us, reached such depths?

    The Minister claims that Tiwarie wins his contracts fairly and squarely, I will not comment on that, he however completely overlooks the point that Tiwarie is allowed to keep all equipment he is allowed to bring into this country duty free, thereby not only contravening the regulations governing these matters but it gives him an unfair advantage over the other contractors, when the next contract come along.

   The minister claims that under section 73.3 and 73.6 he is operating within the law to allow duty free entry of equipment which are project specific, incidentally this is the only part of Mr. Kowlessar's release which is the truth, if the duty free concessions are project specific Mr. Kowlessar, then sir, why does Mr. Pertab's letter from the ministry of finance granting Tiwarie concessions contain these words "this concession is granted on condition that the vehicles be used solely by BK International INC. should not be used for hire and should not be sold or transferred without prior approval of this ministry" nowhere in Mr. Pertab's letter to the Project Director, Guyana Sea Defenses, does the word TEMPORARY appear.

    For the public's edification I will read, section 73.3, it says and I quote "imported materials to be incorporated in the works and imported goods and materials consumed for the purpose of executing the works under contract will be exempt from payment of Guyanese duties, Import duties, taxes or fiscal charges having similar effect, except as provided otherwise in subclause 73.4 to 73.8, clause 73.4 specifies, that all locally purchased goods including spare parts equipment etc shall be subject to the fiscal rules of the country. 73.5 Specifies that fuel and lubricants shall always be subject to all necessary duties. All of which means that any material actually consumed in the project stone, cement, geotextile materials, Steel, etc are indeed duty free, except fuel and anything bought locally. And I did not include in Mr. Tiwarie's shopping list of duty free concessions any item, which I thought that he was allowed to bring in duty free e.g. 100 rolls of Geolon filter fabric. 

    Section 73.6 of the Conditions of Particular Application contain the following "constructional plant and equipment required for the execution of the works under contract will be granted a TEMPORARY import admission. The contractor will be exempted from the payment of any Guyanese TAXES, DUTIES, FEES or other fiscal charges having similar effect on TEMPORARY plant and equipment, Provided that ALL such plant and equipment shall be RE-EXPORTED when no longer needed for the purpose of the contract and in any event before or upon the final acceptance of the works. The exemption will be subject to the following conditions:

A.     The contractor shall within 30 days after the acceptance of his tender submit to the employers a list showing the items of constructional plant and equipment he intends to import temporarily. This plant and equipment shall only be for the purpose of the works and in broad lines shall be the same as foreseen in clause 5.1 of the instruction to bidders". That means that ALL contractors who bid, MUST be given, in advance, the knowledge that any equipment they need for the contract will be allowed to come in duty free.

B.      If the contractor without written permission sells lets, or transfers any of the TEMPORARY imported plant and/or equipment he forfeits his privileges etc and will be fined from the contract money the value of the duties for the equipment."....

 It is very clear ladies and gentlemen that the duty free privileges granted under section 73.6 are temporary ones only, and that after the project is over the contractor is required by law to offer all equipment for re-export or he must pay the duties, the evidence I have supports the view that Mr. Tiwarie is required to do neither. The only restriction applied to him is that he cannot sell them nor can he rent them. I repeat, Mr. Kowlessar must tell us when and if Tiwarie has ever been required to pay the duties on equipment he was allowed to bring in duty and consumption taxes free at the conclusion of any contract or the date such plant and machinery were re-exported, and if he cannot, then he must tell us why not.

As far as the other beneficiaries of these sorts of concessions that the minister has listed, Nabi and sons, Courtney Benn, CIS Ecologica, and Andre Howard, I hope that they have been asked to comply with the regulations and have either re-exported all plant and equipment or paid all duties when the project, for which the concessions were specific, ended, except of course those materials which were consumed in the execution of the contract, Thank you for bringing these additional beneficiaries of your magnanimity to our attention Minister. 

    No Mr. Kowlessar, I am afraid that you are the one who is misleading the public and telling them half-truths, not me! I research my commentaries very carefully Minister, and I am responding to your ridiculous press release only so that the Guyanese public will know that when I tell them something, it is the truth or that I truly believe it to be so. Every commentary I have done so far was based on documented facts that I have at my disposal in writing, none of them were ever speculative. This matter now requires the intervention of the parliament and a commission of inquiry should be set up to look into this inequitable situation, since your own press release, shows us clearly that you have no intention of telling us the truth.