The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has lost a lawsuit over the recent classification of a Land Cruiser as a passenger vehicle, despite its arguments that its conclusion was sound on several grounds.
On Thursday, High Court Judge, Damone Younge, quashed the move of the GRA to ‘misclassify’ the vehicle as a passenger vehicle, saving auto-dealer and businessman, Mohamed Shaw Jahan some $12 million in taxes.
Jahan was represented by attorney, Siand Dhurjon, who welcomed the ruling that the GRA and its Commissioner-General, Godfrey Statia, wrongfully classified the 2020 Toyota Land Cruiser as a utility commercial vehicle.
In a statement after the ruling, Dhurjon said the judge agreed with all his submissions on behalf of Jahan and made an order, declaring that the classification as a passenger vehicle was incorrect, ultra vires, irrational, unfair, unreasonable, null and void and of no legal effect.
“The learned judge further declared that the vehicle was a goods vehicle which fell under tariff heading 8704. Justice Younge issued an order of certiorari to quash the erroneous classification decision GRA and Mr Statia,” Dhurjon said in a statement.
According to Dhurjon, the trial judge also issued an order of mandamus to compel the GRA to now classify the vehicle as a ‘goods vehicle’; to accept the $1,871 million in taxes, already paid, within seven days. The GRA was initially asking the businessman to pay taxes amounting to $14 million.
Attorney-at-law, Siand Dhurjon
The judge ordered that the GRA take all steps necessary to see to the release of the vehicle as soon as practicable and that Jahan be reimbursed by the GRA for the costs of storing the vehicle at the John Fernandes terminal from January 2021 to the date of its release.
The learned judge also ordered that the GRA pay the costs of Jahan’s lawsuit.
Back in March 2021, Comptroller of Customs, Excise and Trade Operations, Rohan Beekhoo had said that although the businessman declared the vehicle as a “goods carrying vehicle”, GRA’s Central Processing Unit and the authority’s Harmonised System Clarification Committee, after extensive deliberations, both determined that the vehicle is in fact a passenger vehicle.
He had intended to take this same argument to court. This is believed to be the first case of its kind in Guyana.
Since the vehicle’s arrival in Guyana on December 20, 2020, Jahan has been unable to clear the vehicle due to the nearly $14 million in duties and taxes that the GRA had required as a result of their incorrect classification.
The vehicle has since been kept at the John Fernandes terminal and facilities incurring storage costs for months.
Jahan bought the Land Cruiser from England, in October 2020, where it was classified as a ‘light goods vehicle’.