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:
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.
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.