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February 19 ,2021

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The Giftland Group says it has gotten judgment in its favour in a more than five-year-old battle with the Georgetown Mayor & City Council (M&CC) which it had said accused it of owing in excess of $100 million in rates and taxes.

According to a press release from the Giftland Group its long contentious tax issue with the City Council was finally resolved yesterday before acting Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire SC who found that the Council had acted illegally and that no taxes are currently owed by the Giftland Mall.

Contacted last evening, attorney Timothy Jonas SC who represented Giftland, confirmed the ruling having been made by the Chief Justice.

He explained that the M&CC had gotten a valuation of the mall from a valuation officer, but that this was done in breach of the Valuation Act since among other things, no notice had been given to Giftland (the Applicants).

The lawyer explained too, that contrary to procedure, the defendants (M&CC) charged his clients interest on arrears that had not even existed; while noting that even if interest could have been charged, it needed to have been simple interest and not compounded interest.

Jonas said that that compounded interest charged by the Council was 21% which was exponentially higher than if it were simple interest.

The lawyer said that he challenged the valuation and the interest.

He said that having heard the arguments, the Court set aside the valuation, and a demand notice which the Council had sent his clients regarding the payment of taxes.

He then noted that the Chief Justice granted a declaration that Giftland is not indebted for rates and taxes, arrears or interest as claimed by the Council.

According to the release, the Giftland Group and Chairman, Roy Beepat have been “fully vindicated against the damage wrought by the Mayor.

Last June, Mayor Ubraj Narine had accused Giftland of shirking its tax obligations for the past five years.

The Giftland Mall, however, had said that it was the City which had delayed an agreed settlement and then attempted to seek interest for the time that had elapsed.

The Mayor had said at that time that Giftland Mall owed City Hall over $103 million in rates and taxes and had not paid any rates or taxes nor any interest on what was owed since the mall’s opening in July, 2015.

A subsequent statement issued by the Giftland Group had, however, said that the Company had been actively pursuing City Hall for five years in an effort to have the issue amicably settled.

Beepat had said at that time that former Town Clerk Royston King had negotiated a settlement but in three years despite many attempts to have this drawn into a binding written contract, it was never completed by the city.

It was Beepat’s contention that the Mayor insisted on interest of 21% on what was owed, and a penalty in the figure of approximately $43 million, notwithstanding the company’s argument that it had spent close to $500 million on public works, which included the public access road to the Mall and the Demerara estate, street lighting, a bus shed, walkways and irrigation.

Further, Beepat had said the Mayor was also told that the Mall had not received the benefit of one day of service from the city, including basic garbage collection, as the Mall has had to undertake these services at its own cost.

According to the release issued by Giftland following the ruling yesterday, the Company said it is prepared to “offer an olive branch to the M&CC to find a way to work together recognizing that the country cannot run without taxes.”

According to the release, “despite its malicious attack on our reputation, we continue to be here to serve all Guyanese people with the highest standards possible and look forward to your continued support.”

The council was represented by attorney Darren Wade.

The Attorney General was also listed as a defendant in the action.

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The Mayor had said at that time that Giftland Mall owed City Hall over $103 million in rates and taxes and had not paid any rates or taxes nor any interest on what was owed since the mall’s opening in July, 2015.



How can the Judge ruled taxes aren't owed when none was was paid from since 2015 ?

The Property Tax LAWS are lax in Guyana.

Last edited by Django
@Django posted:

The Mayor had said at that time that Giftland Mall owed City Hall over $103 million in rates and taxes and had not paid any rates or taxes nor any interest on what was owed since the mall’s opening in July, 2015.



How can the Judge ruled taxes aren't owed when none was was paid from since 2015 ?

The Property Tax LAWS are lax in Guyana.

The ruling was on the merits of the case before the court.  I don't think Giftland will get away with not paying taxes.  If the Council does the valuation etc. properly then Giftland will have to pay. 

@Totaram posted:

The ruling was on the merits of the case before the court.  I don't think Giftland will get away with not paying taxes.  If the Council does the valuation etc. properly then Giftland will have to pay.

Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire SC who found that the Council had acted illegally and that no taxes are currently owed by the Giftland Mall.

The above is what the Judge said.  Beepat claiming spent $500M in public works ,he is probably looking for the taxes to be to be written off.

Last edited by Django
@Django posted:

Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire SC who found that the Council had acted illegally and that no taxes are currently owed by the Giftland Mall.

The above is what the Judge said.  Beepat claiming spent $500M in public works ,he is probably looking for the taxes to be to be written off.

That would mean him usurping the power of the Council to tax and spend as deemed appropriate.  I don't think any court anywhere in the world would allow that.  Wouldn't that open the floodgates to every Tom, Dick and Beharry fixing their own roads etc. and refusing to pay taxes? 

@Totaram posted:

That would mean him usurping the power of the Council to tax and spend as deemed appropriate.  I don't think any court anywhere in the world would allow that.  Wouldn't that open the floodgates to every Tom, Dick and Beharry fixing their own roads etc. and refusing to pay taxes?

Correct !!!  Giftland Mall have an obligation to pay up ,interest are accrued when taxes aren't paid.

In the US liens are put on properties of delinquent tax payers ,if not paid up for a period of time ,property are sold to recover payments. If there are mortgages ,the bank steps in and make payments ,any defaulting payments to the bank ,property are foreclosed.

Last edited by Django

Giftland Boss and City Mayor’s Attorney differ over Court ruling on taxes owed

Giftland Boss and City Mayor’s Attorney differ over Court ruling on taxes owed

Source

February 19 ,2021

Chief Justice Roxanne George on Thursday dismissed the City's claim for more than $100 million in taxes from the Giftland Mall.

While the CEO of the Giftland Mall has declared victory and claims that the Court has ruled that he does not owe any taxes to the Georgetown City Council, the Attorney for the City Council Darren Wade is insisting that the Court made no such ruling.

Chief Justice Roxanne George on Thursday dismissed the City’s claim for more than $100 million in taxes from the Giftland Mall.

The Giftland CEO in a statement is demanding an apology from the City Mayor by tomorrow. He said if none is offered, he intends to sue the Mayor.

But the City Council’s Attorney Darren Wade explained this afternoon that the matter was dismissed on the grounds that a proper evaluation of the taxes owed was not done. He said that is not the same as no taxes being owed.

“In yesterday’s proceedings, the Court quashed the demand notes sent by the City to MCG Investments demanding owed taxes. The reason for quashing those demand notes is simply because the Chief Evaluation Officer would have failed to follow the Law in respect to the valuation for rates and taxes. Properties are to be valued every five years, the reality is that the properties in Georgetown and the entire country have not been valued since 1996 and so consequently there is no lawful list to work with” Attorney Wade explained.

The Giftland Mall

The Attorney said while taxes cannot be demanded based on a system that has not been updated, that does not mean that taxes are still not owed.

“The Court is of the view that laws relating to taxes must be strictly followed. So, as a result of the failure by the Minister and Chief Valuation Officer, the Court held that demanding taxes is unlawful”

Wade said based on the ruling, the Chief Justice appears to be of the view that a modern evaluation must be done in order for the Council to demand taxes. He said once that updated evaluation is done, the taxes are likely to be much higher and the City Council will stand to benefit more.

“I raised the point with her (the Chief Justice) that should there be an evaluation and for that to be a modern evaluation and she agreed that it must be in the context of 2021. So, I believe in the long run the Chief Justice’s ruling is beneficial for the Mayor and City Council of Georgetown and all the local authorities”.

The Giftland Company in a statement yesterday celebrated the ruling as meaning that the company owes no taxes.

The Chief Justice’s ruling is to be made clear when she hands down her orders in March.

@Django posted:

Giftland Boss and City Mayor’s Attorney differ over Court ruling on taxes owed

Giftland Boss and City Mayor’s Attorney differ over Court ruling on taxes owed

Source

February 19 ,2021

Chief Justice Roxanne George on Thursday dismissed the City's claim for more than $100 million in taxes from the Giftland Mall.

While the CEO of the Giftland Mall has declared victory and claims that the Court has ruled that he does not owe any taxes to the Georgetown City Council, the Attorney for the City Council Darren Wade is insisting that the Court made no such ruling.

The Chief Justice’s ruling is to be made clear when she hands down her orders in March.

In March 2021, one will know the exact decision of The Chief Justice.

What the Mayor and his deputy told me makes Guyana an unfit nation



Kaieteur News – I was walking my dog on the Eve Leary seawall last Friday morning, when the phone rang and the person said: “Do you know who’s talking to you?” On replying that I didn’t, he identified himself. It was a friend of mine, who is now the Deputy Mayor of Georgetown, Alfred Mentore.
As we spoke, my dog bolted from me and I had to cut short the conversation, but, I yelled out, “can I quote you,” and he said yes. The Deputy Mayor called me to offer his reaction to my Friday column on the City Council. He intoned that more than 50 percent of those thousands of buildings that have gone up in Georgetown during the past umpteen years that I referred to in my article do not pay rates and taxes.
I told him I could not believe that. It makes absolutely no sense in a modern nation-state. As he insisted that it is the fact, the dog bolted and I had to go. I left the seawall, drove down Camp Road into Camp Street, turn left into Lamaha Street when the phone rang. It was the Mayor.
Like his deputy, he wanted to talk. I couldn’t because I was driving but I said one thing and he replied with two things. I told him what his deputy said. He corroborated that. He then said he would like to go on Kaieteur Radio with me to explain the reality Mentore painted. Let’s run this scenario with you again so it can stick in your mind and you can act on it.
My Friday column describes the thousands of buildings many of which are humongous that have gone up during the past 10 to fifteen years which should bring in billions annually for City Hall. I argued that given the large number of urban structures that dot the capital of Guyana, City Hall cannot be out of money; on the contrary it should be awash with funds. The Mayor and his deputy are saying that this ambience described by me is misleading. The money from those thousands of buildings isn’t coming in because over 50 percent of those gargantuan, resplendent structures are not paying rates and taxes.
Mentore did say that there is virtually nothing City Hall can do to compel ratepayers to deliver except sue them. He added that successive governments have done nothing to correct this situation. So is this country for real? You construct a big building, you set up your operation in it and you refuse to pay rates and taxes. And life goes on.
What happens then to the thousands of ordinary people who line up from 7am in the morning to pay their rates and taxes at City Hall? My wife insists each year that we must pay on January 2. I went there and the line was endless and I came home. My mother-in-law ran a supermarket at Louisa Row and Hadfield Street. It went out of business 12 years now and she died five years ago. Yet we are paying a whopping sum each year to City Hall.
The word, “insane” can only be the right term to use to describe what the Mayor and his deputy told me. How in the real world can the owners of thousands of buildings in a city refuse to pay rates and taxes and there is nothing the City Council can do? Some pertinent questions arise. These owners do they pay car insurance? Do they pay water and electricity rates? Do they pay their NIS for employees? Do they pay their insurance companies for health and fire coverage? Do they pay VAT to GRA?
I did tell Mentore that what he was describing was surreal. After speaking to both men, a thought crossed my mind. Both of them are APNU councillors. The Mayor did call for a declaration of the March 2020 election based on Mingo’s tabulation. Why these men never requested legislation from their party that was in power for five years?
The PNC’s votes in Georgetown always double those of the PPP’s in national elections. The PNC always wins Georgetown in municipal elections country-wide. In Georgetown lie traditional PNC constituencies. Why the Mayor, his Deputy and PNC councillors have never insisted that this evil is eradicated through legislation? The law can be made in the simple terms. After two years of neglect, the ratepayer is warned. After five years, the ratepayer is taken to a special court which compels him to pay. Three years after not paying, if he still in default, the building is levied on. Tell me please is that not that the law in other countries?

Source:

The M&CC failed in court because of two primary reasons. Firstly the Mayor Narine did a terrible job in properly assessing the amount of taxes owed and then using his PNC natured bullying tactic to coerce Giftland into complying. Secondly the calibre of legal representation that is available to the PNC and their cohorts are mediocre at best. The PNC attracts the same mediocre level of legal representation that Trump does.

@Nehru posted:

The great Attorney Timothy Jonas represented Giftland.

Don't worry...they'll be going back to court soon and the City will get what's owing.  What's there to celebrate here?  A rich man cheating poor people of city services?  Is Jonas proud of this? 

These fellas doan care about that, all that matters to them is that Narine is opposite to the PPP. Suh, he is dead meat, regardless of how much the city is cheated out of. Iz an Indo ting, doan like to pay taxes, all over the world dey the same way.

@seignet posted:

These fellas doan care about that, all that matters to them is that Narine is opposite to the PPP. Suh, he is dead meat, regardless of how much the city is cheated out of. Iz an Indo ting, doan like to pay taxes, all over the world dey the same way.

They pay up their property taxes in the US , they know the penalty.

Last edited by Django

Beepat threatens $200M lawsuit against Georgetown Mayor over false tax claims

— Mayor Narine contends he is representing City Council

Chairman of the Giftland Mall, Roy Beepat has threatened a $200 million lawsuit against Georgetown Mayor Ubraj Narine if he refuses to apologise for making false remarks about the company owing mega taxes to City Hall which has caused the Group “irreparable harm”.

https://guyanatimesgy.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Roy-Beepat.jpgGiftland Chairman Roy Beepat

Chief Justice Roxane George on Thursday ruled in the case brought by Giftland that the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) acted illegally when it claimed more than $100 million in rates and taxes from the Giftland Group.

In a statement on Friday, Giftland said that the High Court found too that at this period, no taxes are owed by the company to the city. The M&CC had used a valuation that was in breach of the Valuation Act to impose the huge charges against the Group, hence the court threw out the demand notice that was sent to the company claiming taxes.

Beepat said he has been vindicated by the court. As such, he has given an ultimatum to Mayor Narine to apologise to him in person by 14:00h on Monday (February 22, 2020) at the Giftland Mall in Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, otherwise, he will face a $200 million lawsuit in his personal capacity for defamation and damages caused to the company’s reputation.

“I have no interest in suing the city. I would be suing the Mayor personally because he had made it personal. So, it’s either he can come up here and he can offer an apology for all the wrong things he has done to me and my company or he face the whole brunt of the Giftland wrath,” Beepat asserted during an interview with Guyana Times on Friday.

https://guyanatimesgy.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Ubraj-Narine.jpg

Georgetown Mayor Ubraj Narine

According to the Giftland Group of Companies Chairman, his company has been victimised, polarised and its reputation has suffered “irreparable harm”.

“He has boycotted the hundreds of people that owe taxes and made it a point to attack Roy Beepat and the Giftland Group. And such actions are reprehensible considering that we were in discussion to have all our taxes matters to be settled at the time he decided to make these statements and come out and attack us. He has caused irreparable harm to our reputation and a lot of damages with our bankers and a lot of our international corresponding associates and our local community associates. We’ve been under this cloud for the last year, almost, for what the Mayor has put us under and it has been personal with him,” the businessman pointed out.

Beepat went on to note that he has been waiting over a year now to respond to the Mayor’s “personal attacks” against him and his company, and he will not be backing down from his threats.

He added that Narine’s allegations have not only tarnished his character and the company’s reputation but also affected its massive investment ventures.

“So he needs to understand that his words have consequences… We’ve lost a lot of customers based on the Mayor’s accusations against this company. They were completely unfounded. He has led this personal attack and it has caused this company money,” the Giftland Chairman posited.

However, in its missive on Thursday, the Group, cognisant of its corporate responsibility, offered an olive branch to the M&CC to find a way to work together having recognised that the country cannot run without taxes.

Asked on Friday whether this offer is still on the table, the businessman contended that he is still willing to work with the City Council going forward.

“Giftland has never shied from paying its taxes. We pay hundreds of millions in taxes every year and we’re to continue to try and find a way to continue work with them. There are many properties around this area – Caricom, [Arthur Chung] Conference Centre and the [National] Aquatic Centre where you can get comparative values of taxes and we’re willing to go along with that. But when they pick a figure of 275 per cent out of the year and they compounded 21 per cent interest – where they could show no logical reasons where they getting these hundreds of millions from, and where they can’t even provide basic sanitisation like garbage collection – and now they want huge taxes. These need to be worked out and we were trying to work it out before the Mayor jumped up and victimised me,” Beepat outlined.

Meanwhile, when contacted for a response to the business on Friday, Mayor Narine contented that the court only ruled on one aspect of the matter, that is, the illegality of the valuation.

Nevertheless, the city Mayor insisted that he was acting on behalf of the M&CC when he made the tax claims against Giftland.

“The only way I will apologise to Mr Beepat is after he shows the public a copy of his receipt that he had paid the Mayor and City Council since his business come in existence. And I represent the Mayor and City Council. I took an oath to represent the people of the city so I don’t have [to] attack Mr Beepat personally. I’m speaking on behalf of the citizens of Georgetown,” Narine asserted.

Never ending cycle in Guyana. Govt tief from the people, you tief from yo neighboh, another neighboh tief from you, one of his fren tief from him, you tief from his fren, everybody tief from the government, government tief from the people....and so it goes

@Totaram posted:

This man, Beepat, wants the mayor to go to Giftland and apologise to him. Who does he think he is?

Royalty in Guyana !!!

Someone need to check how much Electricity is being supplying to the grid of GPL.

Last edited by Django
@Totaram posted:

The arrogance of the rich is on display in this case.  Does Beepat think his company shouldn't pay taxes?  And now he wants to sue the mayor for claiming the taxes owed by Giftland?

Sue for what ??? That's the way Joonah makes money ?

Last edited by Django
@Totaram posted:

The arrogance of the rich is on display in this case.  Does Beepat think his company shouldn't pay taxes?  And now he wants to sue the mayor for claiming the taxes owed by Giftland?

Wonder if he pays the VAT that he collects? Beepat is the new breed of the "untouchables" in Guyana.

Last edited by Mitwah

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