The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) is urging importers of refrigerants to take steps to obtain the required permits to avoid penalties as it is intensifying its campaign to ensure that importers comply with the restriction placed on the importation of ozone depleting substances.
In a press release, the GRA said a number of importers have been found to be in breach of Order No.19 of 2007 of the Trade Act, Chapter 91:01 which limits the amount of hydro chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and other ozone depleting substances that can be imported. The GRA has partnered with the relevant regulatory bodies to ensure that Guyana honours its Treaty obligations under the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol.
According to the release, at the start of each year the National Ozone Action Unit sets the total quota of HCFCs that can be imported for that year. Importers of refrigerants, or equipment containing same, must register with the Unit in order to obtain the necessary permit.
Non-compliant importers can have their items seized or be ordered to retrofit their equipment; failure to do which will result in the forfeiture or disposing of the equipment or substance being sold.
Importers registered with the Unit, having followed the procedure, will be issued with a permit to import the assigned quantity. Importers are also required to follow labelling standards, the GRA said, adding that failure to meet each of these requirements constitutes an offence which is punishable under the law. Additionally, businesses (middlemen) who display brands of equipment containing controlled substances are also urged to ensure that they are observing the guidelines.
The GRA says its customs and enforcement officers are tasked with monitoring imports to ensure compliance. Therefore, they must also ensure that items hazardous to the environment such as HFCHs are not imported into Guyana above the permitted levels and that all documentation and standard requirements are met.
Over the years, several customs and enforcement officers have received training in ozone depleting substances and the procedures used to stem their illegal importation. During these sessions, GRA officers were urged to take precautionary measures while inspecting refrigerants and air conditioning equipment being imported. To date, about 50 officers have been trained in this endeavour.