Over $30M in smuggled goods seized by GRA; NWD poses unique challenges

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GRA[www.inewsguyana.com] – The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has noted with concern the plight of businessman, Rajesh Tirbania as highlighted in an article captioned “Smuggled goods putting strain on businesses in North West District” in the April 3, 2014 edition of a local newspaper.

According to the GRA, smuggling continues to be an ongoing issue, and despite the reinforced efforts of the GRA’s Law Enforcement and Investigation Division (LEID) a large number of business persons continue to engage in this practice.

It was noted that during the first quarter of 2014, the agency detained a large assortment of smuggled goods with a tax value of over $30m. Based on information received and the use of coordinated patrols, goods inclusive of cooking oil, cigarettes, foreign chicken, alcoholic and non-alcoholic energy drinks and mosquito coils were seized.

“While these are among the frequently smuggled goods, a number of other goods such as electrical items, clothing, footwear and accessories, cell phones, digital cameras, wrist watches and heavy duty machinery among others were also seized. These seizures took place in various parts of the country and included various parts of Georgetown, the East Coast of Demerara and Berbice,” the GRA said.

The Authority further noted that the law Enforcement and Investigations Divisions officers have been conducting anti – smuggling activities at Port Kaituma, Matthews Ridge, Mabaruma and Kumaka.

“These exercises have resulted in the seizure of large quantities of foreign alcoholic beverages and other goods.”

Meanwhile, while the agency has conducted a number of seizures in the North West District, it faces a number of challenges including that of smugglers being informed of impending visits, particularly when officers leave by plane for the area, and difficulties of easy access by road.

“Despite the GRA not having a long term active or permanent presence in that location, the Guyana Police Force does have a base in the North West District and as part of the National Taskforce on Fuel Smuggling and Contraband is equipped to detain persons suspected of smuggling and can seize goods suspected of not being legally imported.”

Recently, two boats were detained by the police on suspicion of evasion. The boats were subsequently handed over to the GRA and the Authority was able to recoup over $4M in applicable Customs Duty and Taxes.

The Authority said that it will continue to put systems in place to ensure its enforcement activities are enhanced.

“The effectiveness of this, however, is dependent on cooperation from the public as it relates to sharing information on incidents of corruption and illegal activities that are geared at depriving the state of revenue or results in unfair competition with the local manufacturing sector and legitimate importers. As such, persons with information can utilize various methods of providing information to the GRA.”

The agency, has established its switchboard operations; therefore, persons can call telephone numbers 227-8222 or 227-6060, extensions 3201 – 3208 and request the relevant officials from GRA’s Law Enforcement and Investigation Division.

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