Political Leader of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Senator Nazim Burke has denied that he owes the Government of Grenada just over $78,000 in taxes.
Sen. Burke’s denial came following an article published in the December 22nd, 2016 Caribupdate Weekly Newspaper under the headline “Naz’s Tax Burden,” and a facebook posting in the name of Sheldon Scott that he is indebted to government for taxes amounting to $78,500.
During a radio appearance last week Tuesday, Sen. Burke said the allegation, “is false, it is not true, it has never been true.”
“It is not true that Nazim Burke owes the Government of Grenada, seventy-eight and a half thousand dollars,” he said.
“I have never owed the government $78,500,” he added.
Sen. Burke believes the smear campaign against him is a deliberate, willful and spiteful act done by those who know it is not true in an attempt “to rescue” Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.
He recalled that in reacting to Dr. Mitchell’s statement in Parliament of blocking a job he was seeking to have at the Commonwealth Secretariat, he spoke of the refusal of the Ministry of Finance to pay him gratuity in excess of $73,000 that government is owing to him since demitting Office in 2013.
He told the host of the programme that several unsuccessful attempts were made to recover the monies due to him.
Sen. Burke produced a litany of correspondences between himself and the past and current Permanent Secretaries in the Ministry of Finance, Timothy Antoine and Mike Sylvester, respectively over his gratuity.
He said that in response to a first letter written to Antoine on January 9th 2015, the then Permanent Secretary informed him by way of a letter dated January 20th 2015 that government’s owes him $702.41 as credit for taxes paid in 2011, 2012 and 2013, and that he was owing $2,000 for professional license fees as a Lawyer.
He said Antoine’s letter stated that when the $702.41 is subtracted from the $2,000 for professional license fees, his tax obligation to government as of January 28th, 2015 was $1,297.59.
The Congress leader also brought to the fore a break down of his wife’s (Attorney-at-law) Jacqueline Sealy-Burke’s taxes, which includes properties owned at Tempe and Westerhall Point.
According to Sen. Burke, then PS Antoine informed him that he was prepared to take off the taxes, and when that is done he will advise the Attorney General of the agreement that the balance on the gratuity was $30,142.
Sen. Burke said after not hearing anything further, he wrote the new PS, Mike Sylvester on May 6th 2016 setting out the history of what had transpired before with Antoine who had by then taken up the post of Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB).
He spoke of receiving a letter from Sylvester in August 2016 which indicated that the taxes owed to government was $7,552, and after taking off the penalties and interests as the State had taken too long to sort out the issue of the indebtedness the new figure as of August 2016 was $6,161.28.
The Congress Leader challenged the Professional Service fees slapped on him since as Minister of Finance during the 2008-13 period he was serving the government and was not in private practice as a lawyer.
Sen. Burke noted that Attorneys employed with government including the Attorney General, Solicitor General, and Crown Counsel are not called upon to pay the license fee.
He expressed concern over the negative impact such stories as his taxes can create in the minds of the innocent man that someone vying for State Power is a tax evader who has no sense of responsibility in his fulfillment of obligation to the State.
“When these stories go out… the innocent listener who does not know may form the impression that this is true… and may develop a very unpleasant and negative attitude to somebody who has been a Minister of Finance… for four and a half years in Grenada, who, at this particular point is leading a political party,” he remarked.
Caribupdate is associated with a Journalist/Political Strategist who is closely aligned to Burke’s political nemesis, former Foreign Affairs Minister, Peter David.
Burke and David who were prominent members of the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution parted ways in September 2012 when the latter was expelled from Congress along with a group of dissident members.
Sen. Burke told the programme host that those who have embarked on the course of trying to discredit and hurt him politically by telling these “false and malicious stories” must be held accountable.
“It cannot be right for somebody to be going and making these statements that I am owing this money, when, even by the government’s own admission, that is not true,” he said.
Speculation is rife that the NDC leader has instructed his attorney to file a plethora of lawsuits against several persons including Hamlet Mark of Caribupdate and veteran trade unionist Chester