In a statement today, the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) says it has an adequate amount of staff on the customs wharves to deal with the increased traffic for the Christmas season.
It was responding to a news item in the Kaieteur News on December 18.
Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority, Khurshid Sattaur said the article captioned `Chaos at city wharf for barrels, boxes –shortage of Customs Officers blamed’ is “sensational and misleading and is another attempt to tarnish the image of the organisation and its staff by the said newspaper.”
Sattaur said that the GRA is working in conjunction with shipping agencies in order to facilitate the expeditious clearance of personal effects.
“Officers are working through the lunch hour and overtime to ensure, as far as is practicable, that barrels, boxes and other items are cleared. The wharves are adequately staffed to deal with the increase in consignments. Customs Officers are working assiduously in (an) effort to ensure that prohibited and restricted items are not imported without the relevant approval and licences, while ensuring that security is paramount”, the release said.
Sattaur said that the public would appreciate that the GRA has to exercise more caution in the examination of personal effects in light of recent incidents where “through methodical examination, Customs Officers were able to detect a large quantity of ammunition and a firearm at John Fernandes and Muneshwer Wharves.”
The Commissioner-General is of the view that while there might be some delays, Customs officials are not to be blamed since they are working along with the shipping agencies. If the agencies are working until 7.30 pm, then the Customs Officers will also be there to expedite the process as far as possible.
“Moreover, the public is hereby advised that when conducting business with the GRA at the various wharves, they will be dealt with on a first come, first served basis to ensure transparency and fairness with the system”, the release said.
The new system for the clearance of personal effects, which was scheduled to be in place from December 1, 2010, has been put on hold. GRA said the new system is expected to be implemented early next year, when the risk profiling system will be employed to determine the need for and the degree of examination necessary.
GRA said it is in the process of installing the non-intrusive detection equipment at the Guyana National Shipping Corporation Compound for scanning of imports and exports. This new facility is scheduled to become operational from January 1, 2011 and is intended to enhance port security, transparency and efficiency.