PM: Forensic audit by IRD of six local companies coming
March 16, 2012
PM: Forensic audit by IRD of six local companies coming

Six locally operated, internationally owned companies will soon face the scrutiny of government auditors.{{more}}

At a press conference on Monday at Cabinet Room, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves announced that the process will take place in accordance with the Insurance Act of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“I have given instructions as the minister responsible for taxation for six companies which operate in St Vincent and the Grenadines. I am not going to say which ones will be audited forensically in respect of taxes, because some of them, we have some issues.

“I am not accusing anyone of hiding or evading or avoiding taxes; no. I’m just saying we have some issues and… I gave the approval for the Comptroller of Inland Revenue in respect of hiring this forensic auditor for tax purposes.”

The Prime Minister used the opportunity to urge business places to pay money due to the government, including VAT (Value Added Tax), company taxes and withholding taxes.

He indicated that he was unaware of which businesses’ accounts books will be scrutinized, but said he was confident that the comptroller (Kelvin Pompey) would be “fair and reasonable” within the framework of the law.

Prior to making the announcement, Gonsalves indicated that in times past LIME had not had its accounting arrangements in order.

The Prime Minister recalled that shortly after the Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration came to office, it was discovered through forensic examination, that LIME owed the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines $26 million for the previous six years, but through reconciliation, the government was paid close to $18 million.

As the saga continues in the wake of LIME’s disconnection of a number of ministerial and department phone lines about two weeks ago, Gonsalves indicated that the announcement of the audit and the fallout with LIME were unrelated, and he was awaiting the results of the reconciliation process which was taking place.

“So you have all these types of problems… you don’t think you would have that multiply across this government? And I’ve always been asking for reconciliation of these things and they have not been done.

“So we’ve reached this point; LIME has acted the way it has acted, I have no problem with them, if they feel they want to so act. But let us understand the position of the government and the Prime Minister.

“I don’t know what prompted them to act in that way, but I am not displeased that they have acted in that way, but they must appreciate that the government is not an NGO that you just decide that you can do what you want to do and that everything will come back fine and dandy….”

“I told the people of this country that the $2.6 million that LIME has said that the government owes, it is not that; that the number the public servants told me that it’s 1.1 million and public servants told me it’s below that.”

“I made the point that the government would not be paying any bill which is not properly reconciled, so the government officials have their work to do, and so, too, LIME.”(JJ)