May 16, 2017 News
– GRA has no place to house it
By Brushell Blackman
The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA)’s state-of-the-art container scanner bought in 2014 is in working order, but the trouble is the State cannot find a home for it.
Yesterday at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting at Parliament chambers, GRA officials appearing before the committee indicated that the organization cannot find a suitable place to house the equipment.
Previously GRA was in possession of a portable scanner that developed a fault, and a decision was taken not to repair it, since it was not a cost-effective exercise.
It was then replaced with the new scanner. That device too developed a fault and was out of operation for some time. It was subsequently repaired, but it was found that the new scanner cannot be exposed to the elements, since that was the genesis of its earlier problem.
According to Ingrid Griffith, Deputy Commissioner General of GRA, the entity was given the option of using the National Park to house the equipment, but that was not feasible, since the location was unsuitable.
She said GRA used the device at the National Park for a short time, but soon found that the tarmac at that location was being destroyed, since the method of scanning and the need for the containers to rotate during scanning presented an operational challenge. That decision had to be shelved and another location is being sought, but no arrangement has been finalized.
In the meantime, containers are not being scanned, save for some manual checking by Customs Officers, and the integrity of containers cannot be fully guaranteed.
PAC member Juan Edghill said that one cannot be sure that illegal cargo is not leaving these shores. Edghill underscored the importance of the scanner and indicated that it is a critical tool in combating the transshipment of illicit drugs.
Griffith was asked how soon that entity will be in a position to have the equipment operable. She said that currently GRA is in talks to have the device moved to a suitable location that has not been finalized.
Chairman of the PAC, Irfaan Ali said that he suspects that the issue with the scanner might be out of the reach of GRA staff, and tasked the financial secretary to approach the government to have the issue rectified.
In 2003, the American Government had threatened Guyana that it would not accept any imports from the country if containers were not scanned before being exported.
An ultimatum was also issued to the exporting community on the issue of container inspection and scanning as a formidable tool.
Head of the Presidential Secretariat at the time, Dr. Roger Luncheon, said that the ultimatum was actually inserted in documentation as a basis for continued export to some markets.
Dr. Luncheon explained that the scanner was too expensive to be moving across the country and as such, containers might have to be taken to the scanner for inspection.
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