The Guyana Revenue Authority’s (GRA) Law Enforcement and Investigation (LEID) arm continues to enforce programmes aimed at promoting compliance with VAT and other taxes and warns that persons who attempt to obstruct the process will be prosecuted.
The agency said it has become necessary to remind the public of the authority vested in its enforcement officers and the ramifications of obstructing them in the course of their duties.
Section 3 of the Customs Act, Cap 82:01 stipulates that “for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of the customs laws, all officers shall have the same powers, authorities and privileges as are given by law to members of the Police Force,” the GRA said in a press release.
The agency further noted that Section 56 of the said Act states that “if any officer… finds that there is not free access to any place or any box or chest, or if the keys of any such place, box or chest, if locked, are withheld, such officer may open any place, box or chest in any manner; and such officer shall not be liable to any prosecution or action at law for so doing; and if any goods be found concealed on board, they shall be forfeited.”
It added that Section 211 of the Customs Act, Cap 82:01 also empowers its officers to stop and examine any ship, aircraft or carriage within Guyana to ascertain whether it contains any “uncustomed” or prohibited goods and Section 215 (f) of the Act provides penalties for any person who attempts to impede the work of these officers. According to the Act, such persons “…shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine of ten thousand dollars together with imprisonment for three years.”
The LEID will continue to work with the Task Force on Fuel Smuggling and Contraband in ensuring that these issues are effectively addressed. Additionally, the GRA will continue to put systems in place to enhance its enforcement activities. However, the agency noted that that effectiveness of these measures depends upon cooperation from the public as it relates to sharing information on incidents of corruption and illegal activities aimed at depriving the state of revenue. It may also result in unfair competition between the local manufacturing sector and legitimate importers. The GRA’s LEID can be contacted via telephone numbers 227-8222 or 227-6060 ext 3201.