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Financial News

Jun 2009 Financial News

TCL seeking US$2.5m judgment

Jun 17, 2009

The case involving Trinidad Cement Ltd and Guyana over the illegal removal of taxes on imported cement has now been wound up and TCL is eagerly awaiting the judgment of the Caribbean Court of Justice.

Guyana could be asked to reimburse as much as US$2.5 million if the court orders the state to pay everything that TCL is asking, as it relates to compensating the company for revenue it lost as a result of Guyana's decision to remove the mandatory Common External Tariff (CET) from cement products produced by non-Caricom manufacturers.

TCL claims the tariff was removed since 2006.

Yesterday, attorneys representing both parties gave their closing arguments at the Port of Spain-based court on the fact that Guyana had unilaterally moved to waive the CET on cement despite the fact that the Treaty of Chaguaramas mandates that the decision to waive the 15 per cent tax cannot be made by one country, but was a Caribbean community (Caricom) decision.

Guyana yesterday admitted that it was wrong in deciding to waiver the tax unilaterally instead of going to the Council for Trade and Economic Development.

However, Kim Stephen, an official from the Guyanese Ministry of Trade, Industry and Commerce testified that private sector business owners had been complaining to the Ministry about TCL Guyana's subsidiary inability to provide enough cement for the share of the market it occupied.

Guyana did not move to defend its decision, as it had already admitted that it was wrong in deciding to waive the tariff in the previous day's proceedings.

Guyana's Senior Counsel, Prof Keith Messiah, has asked the court for extra time to put his team's final submission in writing. However, he was denied the opportunity as CCJ president Michael de la Bastide explained that the judges felt this would drag on the case.

In all, TCL is claiming for compensation for lost of income suffered in its capacity as 80 per cent shareholder in TCL Guyana subsidiary in the amount of US$532,214 for the period January to December 2007 and continuing, while the subsidiary is claiming compensation for lost profits suffered as a direct result of Guyana's failure to implement the CET on building cement in the sum of US$2,084,540 for the period of January to December 2007 and continuing.

Article by: Aretha Welch
Source: Trinidad Express