The Ministry of Agriculture has announced that it is stepping up a campaign to remove from the market, fruits and vegetables brought illegally to Guyana.
Officials say that large quantities of fruits and vegetables have already been seized and destroyed from two supermarkets. The commodities included green and red cabbage, sweet peppers and Iceberg lettuce.
According to a notice published yesterday in Kaieteur News, the Ministry disclosed that it has observed that a number of importers are bringing in fruits and vegetables without the relevant Import Permit.
The Ministry hinted that the importers must be bypassing regulations when bringing in the containers but warned that “even if the Guyana Revenue Authority unauthorizedly allows such produce without the necessary phytosanitary certification, they are deemed illegal by outlaws.”
When contacted yesterday, the Commissioner-General of GRA, Khurshid Sattaur, refused to speak to this newspaper on the matter and angrily accused Kaieteur News of “publishing articles when told not to”. One case he cited was the recent missing Customs Officer from Lethem who disappeared while on an outing in the interior. The officer was found next morning by a search party. Meanwhile, the Agriculture Ministry said that the procedures for the importation of fruits, vegetables and regulated articles to Guyana requires firstly for an Import Permit to be placed with the Ministry.
“The processing of this application takes a maximum of seven working days. It is necessary for importers to obtain this Import Permit from the Ministry of Agriculture, since the Ministry will not be responsible for items shipped (in the local port or intransit) in the event that an application is denied.”
The permit does not in any way remove the obligations of the importers with respect to complying with the statutory requirements of the Guyana Revenue Authority and the Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Industry,” the notice warned yesterday.
The Ministry says that as a result, it will, with immediate effect exercise zero tolerance to importers who fail to observe the regulations and are not in compliance in relation to their goods, will have those goods seized and destroyed.
“However, importers who have such goods presently on the wharf, ports and in transit are asked to make immediate contact with the Plant Quarantine Division, Ministry of Agriculture.”
Vendors must demand that imports show their phytosanitary certificates before transacting any business involving fruits and vegetables.
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