Businesses urged to report evidence of smuggling activities to GRA

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Minister of Finance Winston Jordan listens to Director of Tandy’s Manufacturing Burt Denny during a visit to the company on Monday.

Minister of Finance Winston Jordan has said that the efforts by the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) to put a handle on smuggling, has been boosting the profits of many local businesses and is urging anyone with evidence of certain underhand activities to report same to the revenue body for action to be taken.

According to DPI, during a visit to Tandy’s Manufacturing on the East Bank Demerara, Minister Jordan said that the work of the GRA’s Law Enforcement and Investigation Division (LEID) continues to bring economic relief to many businesses.

Company Director Burt Denny had expressed the difficulties his company experiences, especially in producing peanut butter at the manufacturing entity. He said peanuts are being smuggled from neighbouring Suriname and are sold at costs higher than the actual finished product.

“When they bring peanuts and they sell it in the market, you have it retailing at the price that you’re trying to sell the actual peanut butter. In-house calculations would find that the bottled peanut butter is being sold cheaper than the peanut itself,” Denny told the minister.

Minister Jordan said in such a case, businesses that are aware of underhand activities should report the smuggling to the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA).

According to DPI, the minister said there remains a challenge in the smuggling of all kinds of products, including those in the food industry as there still are some porous borders and “individuals.”

Up to last year, the Law Enforcement and Investigation Division of GRA was able to recoup hundreds of millions of dollars in Customs Duties, Excise Taxes, Environmental Levy and VAT, and fines from commonly smuggled items such as alcohol, foreign poultry and mosquito coils.

In May 2018, following a sting operation on the Atlantic Ocean, officers intercepted a motor vessel containing hundreds of boxes of foreign poultry and mosquito coils. The captain and two sailors on board the vessel were apprehended and placed into custody.

GRA had said that the LEID operation demonstrates its commitment to deterring, disrupting, and prosecuting individuals who attempt to import prohibited items, and evade the payment of their fair share of duties and taxes.

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