Importers of food and drugs must present free sale certificate

– GRA emphasises

The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) yesterday underscored that importers of food and drugs must be ready to produce a Health or Free Sale Certificate to frontline officers at Customs Excise and Trade Operations.

GRA’s position would be seen as reinforcing the warnings that have been issued by the Guyana Analyst Food and Drug Department (GA-FDD) which has clashed with a number of importers in recent months over this matter.

In a press release yesterday GRA noted that the supporting document is required for submission to GRA’s Entry Processing Unit at Head Office and Regional Locations for processing along with the other supporting documents which usually accompany Customs Declarations.

The agency explained that the GA-FDD has observed importers failing to present the document which serves as proof that the products are freely sold in the country of origin and have been sanctioned for exports.

“The Health/Free Sale Certificate must be issued by an official entity from the country in which the commodities are manufactured or produced,” the release said. It added that this requirement is in keeping with Regulation 13 of the 1977 Food and Drugs Regulation Act which states that “a certificate required under section 32(2) of the Act shall have a certificate in English Language issued by the official body or Government Department having authority to issue such certificate in the country in which the article  was manufactured or produced and where no official body or Government Department has authority to issue such a certificate, the certificate may be issued by any person acceptable to the Minister.”

The GA-FDD request for free sale certificates has over the last few months been the subject of some controversy.

Local company Sueria Manufacturing last week protested in front of the Ministry of the Presidency for what it claimed was discrimination on the part of Director of the GA-FDD Marlan Cole.

According to Chief Executive Officer of Sueria Manufacturing, Frank Sanichara, Cole has been abusing his power by requesting that all free sale certificates produced include the batch number and quantity of the products being imported.

For his part, Cole has in the past raised concern about the authenticity of several free sale certificates produced by importers. In August he told reporters that a free sale certificate produced for a consignment of Royal Sea Sardines raised several concerns as several features were missing and there were some discrepancies. Because of these concerns a decision was taken by the department to examine the product and it was discovered that the labeling did not comply with legal requirements. The product’s label failed to display the name and address of the manufacturing company, which is a clear violation of Regulation 18 of the Food and Drug Act.

Further LaiLac Infant milk was removed from local shelves earlier this year when the importer, International Pharma-ceutical Agency failed to provide evidence that the product is freely sold and distributed in the country in which it is produced.