Sale of motor vehicle licences fraught with challenges
It would seem that the operation of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) Licence Revenue Office is fraught with technological challenges. These become especially evident when the time comes to procure motor vehicle licence.
The sale of motor vehicle licence is an annual feature and the GRA had a few years ago made the decision to have all motor vehicle owners visit its Smyth Street office to acquire their licences, which is essential to make vehicles eligible to traverse public thoroughfares.
Yesterday was a typical example of the technological challenge in motion when owners of motor vehicles stood in line for hours waiting to be duly attended to. This newspaper understands that although the morning operation was relatively smooth it was the afternoon that proved to be a very disappointing state of affairs.
The Smyth Street office had closed for lunch at 11:30 hours and was scheduled to resume full operation at 13:00 hours. That was not to be as persons who were in line during the afternoon were forced to wait for close to one hour before the doors were even opened for business to resume.
The excuse reported by a female security officer at the entrance of the building was that “them having some kinda computer problems. We don’t know when them gon ready fuh y’all.”
The wait for some who remained resolute in getting the process over with, would last a few hours more although the line was relatively short.
Though shaded from continuous rainfall, which characterised the weather yesterday, persons were forced to compete for space under a shed outside the building as it was also the venue for the inspection of vehicles.
As if the problems were not enough, shortly after 15:00hrs the GRA office was plunged into darkness. A power outage, compliments of the Guyana Power and Light Incorporated (GPL) had occurred. But though the outage only lasted a mere few minutes it effectively halted the operation, though momentarily.
However, the resumed operation was no less than of a snail’s pace nature. It was soon revealed that there were problems rebooting the computer systems which had shut down due to the power outage.
The evident power related problems saw the security officer informing persons still in the line outside “is not me fault but after this Chinese lady the rest of y’all gon have to make y’all heights (leave)…That one in there dead slow,” she noted, referring to one of the GRA workers behind the counter.
Though several persons had entered the building and had completed a process which saw their documents being scrutinised this did not hinder the designated cashiers from promptly ceasing their operation for the day even before 16:00 hours despite the late start.
This development effectively sparked much fury among those in waiting when they were told to return today.
The GRA commenced the sale of Motor Vehicle Licences for this year in early March. A statement issued by GRA had stated that the main centre for the sale of licences is implementing new measures for taxpayers’ comfort and improved efficiency in the delivery of service.
The GRA had boasted how its forecourt has been covered with tents and seating is being provided for motor vehicle owners and persons purchasing or renewing motor vehicle licences and conducting other business, in an effort to make the facility more taxpayer friendly.
In addition, it was noted that GRA Customer Services Representatives are now serving at a Help Desk at the entrance to the LRO compound in order to give immediate assistance to taxpayers.
“Persons waiting in line are also being served by Customer Service Representatives who are pre-checking documents to ensure that all the requirements are in place for a smooth and speedy transaction once persons enter the building.”
However, this was probably done during the morning hours as it was not evident yesterday afternoon.
GRA had disclosed too that during the peak period for the sale and renewal of Motor Vehicle and other Licences the LRO will be implementing other initiatives to further increase efficiency and improve Taxpayer Education.
Among the initiatives would be the establishment of a special day for the renewal of licences for yellow cabs which will be issued with free licences once the required conditions are met.
As of this year, LRO has introduced an additional security feature in the motor vehicle licences with the inclusion of the Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) displayed on the document.
All motor vehicle owners must therefore ensure that they have a TIN before the new licence could be issued. In addition to the LRO, Motor Vehicle Licences are on sale at the other GRA offices in Georgetown: the Tax Operation and Services Department at Albert and Charlotte Streets, GPO Building on Robb Street and Customs and Trade Administration on Main and Hope Streets.
Outside Georgetown, Motor Vehicle Licences are on sale at GRA regional offices in Lethem, Corriverton, New Amsterdam, Linden, Anna Regina, Parika and Bartica. However, some persons were alerted to the fact that they would not be allowed to make purchases at the alternative locations without first having their documents checked at the Smyth Street Office.
A three-month grace period is allowed for the sale of licences and during this period no checks would be made by the Police Force for renewed licences, GRA has asserted.