Dec 24, 2010 News
The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) says it has deployed enough Customs Officers to man the city wharves during the build-up for the Christmas season.
The agency, gave this reassurance yesterday in response to a story published in the Kaieteur News edition of December 18, in which the shortage of Customs Officers was blamed for long delays in the clearance of barrels and other shipped packages.
GRA’s Commissioner-General, Khurshid Sattaur, in reference to the article captioned “Chaos at city wharf for barrels, boxes –shortage of Customs Officers blamed”, opined that the article was sensational and misleading and was “another attempt” to tarnish the image of the organisation and its staff by the newspaper.
The Commissioner-General argued that it is a known fact that during the festive season, there is a large importation of personal effects.
“…GRA is working in conjunction with shipping agencies in order to facilitate the expeditious clearance of personal effects. Officers are working through the lunch hour and overtime to ensure, as far as is practicable, that barrels, boxes and other items are cleared.”
The GRA release hinted of delays because of security checks that have to be conducted on shipped items.
“Customs Officers are working assiduously in an effort to ensure that prohibited and restricted items are not imported without the relevant approval and licences, while ensuring that security is paramount.”
According to Sattaur, the public would appreciate the fact that GRA has to exercise more care in the examination of personal effects, in light of recent incidents where through methodical examination, Customs Officers were able to detect a quantity of ammunition and a firearm.
He noted that the excellent efforts by those Customs Officers who made the discovery were not given due recognition by Kaieteur News.
“The Commissioner-General is of the view that while there might be some delays, the Customs officials are not to be blamed since they are working in conjunction with the shipping agencies. If the agencies are working until 19:30hrs, then the Customs Officers will also be there to facilitate and expedite the process as far as possible.”
GRA warned that when conducting business with the entity at the various wharves, they will be dealt with on a “first come, first serve” basis to ensure transparency and fairness within the system.
GRA also disclosed that the new system for the clearance of personal effects, which was scheduled to take effect from December 1, 2010, has been put on hold. The new system is expected to be implemented early next year, when the risk profiling system will be used to determine the need for and the degree of examination necessary.
The organization is in the process of installing non-intrusive detection equipment at the Guyana National Shipping Corporation Compound for scanning of imports and exports. The new facility is scheduled to become operational with effect from January 1, 2011, and is intended to enhance port security, transparency and efficiency, the agency said in the statement.
On Friday last, there was a chaotic situation at the wharf, which nearly led to fistfights as angry customers reportedly waited for hours to clear their barrels and boxes.
Several persons who went early were still waiting at 15:00hrs for their items to be examined.
One woman said she was waiting for 90 minutes for a Customs Officer to examine her barrel.
While one Laparkan official admitted that the system is “slightly faster”, the shortage of Customs officers to inspect the packages and barrels was definitely a problem.
The Lombard Street facility currently has four examining officers who are responsible for checking boxes and barrels, containers, clearing cars and other related duties.
Laparkan is among the busiest of the wharves in the country.
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