Wednesday 11 December, 2019

Ministry slams victimisation talk in online tax claim withdrawal

The Finance Ministry has denied that a claim in the High Court brought by courier companies over the online purchase tax was withdrawn due to fear of victimisation.

In a statement on Saturday, the Ministry slammed the “ludicrous suggestion” put forward in electronic media that the withdrawal in the High Court before Justice Ricky Rahim on Friday may have been influenced by fear of victimisation on the part of the Claimant courier companies in obtaining foreign exchange.

It added that the suggestion was reprehensible as the Ministry is not involved in the distribution of foreign exchange - which is distributed by the commercial banks - to courier companies.

The Ministry also noted an assertion in the print media that the parties came to a “resolution” of the matter. It said, however, the withdrawal of the claim by the courier companies was “complete and unqualified”.

“In fact, two of the six courier companies, who were initially part of the group mounting the challenge, now withdrawn by all, had withdrawn even prior to the trial, at much earlier stages,” it added.

The Ministry is of the view that the courier companies withdrew from the litigation in the face of the strength of detailed written submissions filed by the Ministry and the Office of the Attorney General in the High Court.

“Clearly, the courier companies realised that they had no case with respect to the

Government’s legitimate right to vary or impose taxes in order to generate revenue to service the needs of the general population and the country at large.”

The Ministry added that it was unfortunate that any suggestion of victimisation was made as the Ministry and the Office of the Attorney General agreed to not insist that the Claimant courier companies pay the Government’s legal costs, adopting a conciliatory approach to the Claimants’ unilateral decision to withdraw.

The six companies: Ecouriers Ltd, Websource Company Ltd, Jetbox International Ltd, Aeropost Ltd, CSF Couriers Ltd and Caribbean Shipping Agencies Ltd— filed the action in January against the implementation of the tax which came into effect October 2016.

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