I have been following the recent news of cocaine found in a rice shipment suspected to have originated from Guyana. Moreover, my attention was drawn to an article in SN dated 2013-09-05 which covered some interesting comments by the Commissioner General of G.R.A. as follows:
1. GRA Officers are excluded from the process when rice is being packed into bags and sealed at the rice mill.
2. The involvement of the Drug Enforcement Unit in all export transactions by sea.
3. Pressures from the business community to facilitate trade compelled G.R.A. to exclude certain security protocol.
4. Profiling of exporters is done manually using certain criteria such as reputation of exporter, shipping history, country of destination, etc.
My advice to the Commissioner General is set out below in no particular order:
1. At a meeting, a senior G.R.A. official assured exporters that exports in containers would no longer be “doubled profiled” i.e. physical examination and scan.
Yet, several containers of goods are still being double profiled.
This system gives the public the impression that either the scanner is defective or the examining officers can’t be trusted.
2. In any given period, all exports in containers should be subject to 100% examination with a break down as follows: scanning – 50%; examination by DEU & GEU – 30%; examination by PCU & GEU – 10%; and examination by GEU – 10%.
3. The ridiculous wording used for profiling instruction for exports should be simplified e.g. (a) scanning required, (b) 100% examination by DEU & GEU, 100% examination by PCU & GEU, etc.
4. Regardless of situations, security checks and internal controls should not be compromised.
5. Any containerized export should be scanned if GRA officers are excluded from any process of the export system e.g. loading and sealing of rice in bags.
If my recollection is accurate, the container scanner played key roles in three huge drug seizures in shipments of export.
6. Profiling of exporters should be automated and exporters should not have prior knowledge of examination profiles until they are ready to load.
7. In the same way GRA profiles exporters and exports based on risk assessment, likewise drug dealers select legitimate exporters which would be exempted from aggressive examinations due to their “reputation” and conceal drugs in those consignments to smuggle to foreign destinations.
8. The CG seems to be unaware that drug seizures are primarily intelligence driven.
9. Whether you involve the DEU or any other drug enforcement group, it is highly likely that the drugs would have been shipped without detection.
Reason being is that there is an assignment policy employed by the Customs & the Enforcement in that Officer X would be assigned to examine goods for exporters Y and Z regardless of if that Officer has a heavy workload or whether other officers are available to examine goods for exporters Y and Z. This system surely leaves acres of room for complacency.
10. Drug trafficking will always be rampant in a country where the trade is very lucrative while the penalty is minimal. Recently, a foreigner was jailed overseas for 194 months for attempting to smuggle cocaine into Guyana, whereas locals would have been jailed for 36 months and fined $30,000. How nice!
11. Considering the adverse effects of drugs on society, shouldn’t there be a universal law governing possession, trafficking and usage of illicit substances?
(Name and address supplied)