The National Agriculture and Research Extension Institute (NAREI) has requested all importers of agricultural products to be aware of the requisite documentations that are needed to transport these items into the country, since legal actions will be taken against offenders.
In a notice on Wednesday, the agency informed that the importation of agricultural commodities and regulated articles, namely fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers, plants, plant parts, timber and timber products require an importation permit. This is according to the Plant Protection Act No 9: Part Three, which specially deals with imports.
Failure to provide these documents prior to importation will result in legal actions being imposed against defaulters. Guyana Times understands that the imported goods can be seized, along with the imposition of penalties. Imprisonment will depend on the offence as dictated in the legislation.
In the past, the National Plant Protection Organisation, which is spearheaded by NAREI, would make impromptu visits to local supermarkets and other business establishments to examine the products being retailed. Products which were brought into the country without permits would be seized and destroyed.
According to the Plant Protection Act 2011, “Consignments shall be imported into Guyana only by the issue of an import permit granted by the Institute upon application by an importer in the prescribed form; where accompanied by an original phytosanitary certificate including an additional declaration if so required by phytosanitary requirements”.
It further specifies that any person that commits an offence under the Act is liable on “summary conviction”. The magnitude of the offence will determine what actions are taken.
In the case of a first offence, a fine of more than $20,000 but less than $60,000 and imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years will be activated.
For a subsequent office, liable offenders will be slapped with a fine exceeding $40,000 but no more than $80,000 and to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years.
Where it is a continuing offence, there will be an additional fine of more than $5000 and imprisonment for five days for each day of which the offence continues.
“Upon the conviction of any person for any offence under this Act, the court may, in addition to any other sentence imposed, declare any plant, plant product or other object in respect of which the offence has been committed, or which was used in connection with the offence, forfeited and disposed of as the court may direct,” the Act reads.