Amidst complaints of it being unreasonable and not practical, the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has publicly restated its right to search any local aircraft.
“The GRA wishes to remind the general public, particularly the operators of air services to and from interior locations, that the provisions of Section 183 of the Customs Act, Chapter 82:01,” apply, the GRA stated through an advertisement yesterday in the Kaieteur News.
The revenue body quoted specific sections of the law that speak to the searching of aircraft and vessels by its officer. “The Act…specifically stipulates that the Carriage of passengers, officers and crew coastwise, whether in a coasting aircraft or ship or not, shall be subject to any regulations made under this Act.”
Stabroek News was told by sources that a team of local airline operators are to meet with GRA officials on Wednesday to discuss the issue of GRA officers attached to the Ogle Airport searching every aircraft.
This newspaper was told that all local day tour flights are subjected to rigid searches and it has seemed a slothful and laborious task on the part of the GRA officials as they are short-staffed.
“Tourist flights going to Kaieteur Falls are subject to searches when they return and we have no problem with that but the planes have to queue up and wait long times for the officers to search them. They are already short-staffed so that takes a long process,” one source said.
“The officers claim they are trying to catch people smuggling gold out of the interior and not only they are understaffed but they don’t have anyone from the GGMC (Guyana Geology and Mines Commission). It is a long process. Under the laws customs can come and check anything anytime and that is fine but must they do so for every aircraft?” another source questioned.
The GRA says that it expects the co-operation of all air services operators as they are only conforming to the law. “Regulation 143 of the Customs Act instructs that the master, officers and crew shall give all possible assistance to officers engaged in rummaging an aircraft or ship,” the notice signed by GRA Commissioner General Godfrey Statia, states.
Ogle Airport operators will on Wednesday be meeting with Statia to see if an amicable soloution to their problems could be reached.