Please permit me the space in your newspaper to respond to a letter that appeared in the Wednesday May 14, 2014 edition of the Stabroek News. The letter captioned `Clearing Customs and Immigration on both sides of Corentyne is chaotic’ was written by Ms Teshanna Cox and detailed her experiences while travelling by road from Guyana to Suriname and back.
The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) wishes to clarify some of the inaccuracies contained in this letter.
Ms. Cox stated that she needed to leave home early in order to accommodate bridge closure for the Berbice Bridge and check in at Moleson Creek since “it takes approximately three hours from the Berbice Bridge to the Stelling in Moleson Creek to board the ferry to Suriname… Moreover with a little coordination, the opening of the Berbice Bridge could better harmonize with the Moleson ferry’s schedule.” Further, Ms Cox noted that “after waiting for other passengers to disembark and the customs officers to finally arrive we boarded the ferry”. The writer further relates her struggles as she returned to Guyana and was faced with “the sprint to customs… This time however, drivers are not as fortunate to be given a separate line. This meant that even if you were travelling with a driver and cleared first, you could be forced to wait for at least an hour before your driver is cleared since he/she has to join the back of the line.” Moreover, Ms Cox in her letter makes unconfirmed allegations of favouritism on the part of the Customs Officer, being meted out to some persons in the line.
In addressing the comments made by Ms Cox, it should be noted that the GRA has no control over the Bridge Schedules and check in time at the ferry. Customs Officers are always on duty so there should be no need for passengers to wait for our Officers to arrive. Further, there is no sprint to Customs but rather passengers are required to make their way to the Immigration officers. Drivers are required to park their vehicles and also make their way to Immigration. This in itself would cause a delay to the driver because the ‘walk on’ passengers would already be ahead of them in the line. The Guyana Revenue Authority has no control over the Immigration process.
As it relates to the unverified allegations of favoured treatment being meted out to some persons in the line by a Customs Officer. I wish to remind the general public that the GRA has established means by which taxpayers can report such occurrences. Reports can be made to GRA’s Administrative Service Unit on telephone number 227-6060 or 227-8222. Moreover, taxpayers are required to provide substantive details when filing these report.
I sincerely wish Ms. Cox all the best and hope that her next trip is hassle-free.
Tax Advisory Services Division
Guyana Revenue Authority