A frustrating day trying for compliance at the GRA

Dear Editor,

My question is why do the systems in Guyana seem to frustrate rather than assist the consumer?

In the month of June, I visited the Guyana Revenue Authority to enquire what documents I have to take to their office to obtain a certificate of compliance. I was informed about the specific documents that were needed since I was acting on behalf of a pensioner. On July 15, I returned to the office. I arrived at 9:10 am and at 9:45 am, I was given no. 53, at 10:20 am, one of the clerks called for no.33, no one responded to that number, at 10:45 am, number 28 was called along with three other numbers, at 11:05 am, no. 54 was called. Others numbers were called but I will not go into detail concerning this. At 11:50 am, no. 52 was called and at exactly 12 (on the dot), work stopped. Two persons were left in the line, me (no. 53) and another individual no.55. We enquired whether we would be dealt with before the lunch break; the response was “the government does not pay us to work during lunch.” We were warned that if we were not back at the office by 13 hrs, she (the supervisor) could not guarantee that we would be attended to since they were closing off early. I decided to stay in the building to ensure that I would not be further inconvenienced. The door was reopened at exactly 13 hrs. At 13:10, we were arranged according to arrival to receive a new set of numbers, at 13:16, the young lady on work study from BHS was given an instruction from the supervisor to start distributing numbers. This time around, I was given no. 1. I was called in at 13:23, I enquired about the 23-minute delay since they were so exact with lunchtime, I was told that the 23 minutes was needed for them to “get things in place,” I further suggested that she should have started organizing herself at around 12:50. I handed in my documents and was sadly informed I would not be processed without the pensioner’s ID card. In my initial visit I was told I did not need to bring an ID card, since I held the power-of-attorney and my ID card would be sufficient. I was, further told that all I needed was a TIN number for the pensioner and was directed to Albert Street to obtain one. I was also informed that my initial visit was a month ago and the policy had been changed two weeks after my visit. I asked if the other documents could be processed and if I could leave and return with a copy of the ID card. I also asked if I would be given priority if I returned the following day. I was told that this was not possible and that I would need to redo the whole process, inclusive of the numbers and a possible wait through lunch again. To make a bad situation worse, there was an error in the valuation document, which could have been corrected within the hour.

I have three suggestions:

When documents are brought into the office, if they are not photocopied, then one has to leave, get it photocopied and then return, collect another number and wait, why don’t they avail a photocopying machine, and charge an additional fee to customers who did not photocopy their documents.

In order to reduce the build up of waiting persons, they should make an average of the amount of persons that can be processed and only allow that amount to enter, and in this way not waste the customers’ time.

Also, when new systems are implemented, notifications should be made via newspaper, radio and television, again to save the customer the inconvenience.

Yours faithfully,
P. Martindale