What happens when Customs officials improperly levy charges?

Dear Editor,
I noted with considerable interest the comments of Mr Kurshid Sattaur, Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (‘Severe penalty for those guilty of false declaration –GRA Boss’ KN, December 12).

In this article, the CG rightly spoke out against those who seek to exploit the system by concealing and labelling commercial items (those intended for resale or business purposes) as “Personal Effects.”  I understand and agree with the CG.  With this as context, I must now ask the CG what happens when the reverse occurs, and occurs wrongly.  What happens when officials under the GRA umbrella are adamantine in their refusal to accept items declared as “Personal Effects” and instead slap a “commercial” label on said items?  I elaborate.

The CG may or may not have read my book on corruption in Guyana, as experienced by me.  So, I direct his attention to Chapter X titled, ‘The GRA Again –Official and Private Extortion Again.’  The details on how the GRA (Customs) assessed my items declared as “Personal Effects” cannot be clearer.  The decision by Customs officials that items that were ten years old (televisions and beds) and eight hundred books (one of each title) could not be “Personal Effects” and must be commercial ended up costing me around two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000) in charges.

I said then and I say it now: this was egregiously wrongheaded and lacking in any sense.

Today, I submit to the CG that all – repeat – all the items declared as “Personal Effects” are still in my residence over a year later.  They stand as exhibits and are available for inspection.  Perhaps the CG might wish to comment on what was an obvious abuse by those in his organization.  As stated earlier, this is the reverse of his comments and concerns.  Better yet, he might wish to right a wrong, and authorize his agency to refund the approximately one hundred and seventy five thousand dollars ($175,000) improperly levied by his officials and paid by me.  All documents are in hand.

From my perspective, this is an issue of fairness and what is right.  The ball is now in the court of the Commissioner General.

Yours faithfully,
GHK Lall

Editor’s note
We are sending a copy of this letter to Mr Khurshid Sattaur, Commis-sioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority for any comment he might wish to make.

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