The Audit Office of Guyana continues to find the need to highlight issues surrounding the handling of Permission for Immediate Delivery (PID) by Customs which falls under the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA). When the Office was carrying out its review of the Customs activities during 2017, it could not determine if all the requirements for PID were adhered to. This was because relevant information was not available.
Auditors noted that there were serious breaches surrounding the disbursement of PID and these can result in serious loss to revenue.
Regulations under the Customs Act provide for the issuance of a PID. Immediate delivery refers to the procedure under which an importer can take a shipment as soon as it is unloaded and inspected.
Under the Customs Regulation 50 (2), a permission for immediate delivery prior to goods being entered (processed fully) may be issued for perishable goods and any other goods for which delivery can be permitted without any risk to the collection of any duty and other monies payable upon the goods.
A permit is supposed to be issued when immediate release of such goods is necessary to avoid unusual loss or inconvenience to the importer. Goods that qualify for processing through the PID facility include goods perishable in nature e.g. hatching eggs, fruits; medical supplies, goods for use on Government projects/contracts that are subject to duties and taxes, fuel, raw materials for local manufacturers.
The authority to approve and issue a PID has been delegated to the Head of Customs and Trade Administration.
In his most recent report, the Auditor General said that 683 transactions with estimated duties and taxes totaling $30.198 billion were facilitated through the Permit for Immediate Delivery (PID) system.
He noted that Regulation 50 (9) made under the Customs Act requires that goods for immediate delivery be entered within ten working days from the date of the permit for the delivery of such goods, excluding Sundays and public holidays.
The Auditor General said that an examination of the PID Register for the year 2017 revealed that the dates perfected for twenty-eight PIDs with assessed tax and duties totalling $827.886M issued were not recorded.
He noted that similarly, in the previous year, for 371 entries with estimated duties and taxes totalling $12.526B the dates were not recorded in the register. As a result, it was difficult to ascertain whether the PIDs were perfected in the stipulated time frame.
Customs responded saying that the printed formatted register does not carry a date column for endorsement. “However, the transaction details may be traced in the system using the recorded transaction document number. As recommended by the auditors, dates of the perfected transactions are currently entered into the register; this commenced after their 2017 audit of the activities for year 2016.”
The Audit Office recommended that the Authority “ensure that the PID Register is updated with all necessary information.
But further to this, the Audit Office pointed out that “655 PIDs were issued with assessed taxes totalling $29.370 billion and were entered on an average of forty-two days over the stipulated period.
Similarly, in 2016, a total of 232 entries with assessed duties and taxes totalling $7.361 billion were entered on an average of eighteen days over the stipulated time frame. Failure to ensure that the PID facility is operated within the stipulated framework constitutes a serious breach of the Customs Regulations and can result in loss of revenues and long delays in completing ship and aircraft files.”
Customs responded, “Transactions in which parts of the consignments are given remissions of taxes are sometimes delayed as a result of the prolonged delivery periods for the product and the requirements that the importers present documentation from agencies external to the GRA.
The TRIPs system was incapable of managing partial sales related to exemptions. Improvements in processing times are anticipated with the introduction of the ASYCUDA World software and its implementation, which has commenced.
Even further, the Audit Office found that Customs continues to experience difficulty in having PIDs perfected in the stipulated time frame. The Audit Office said that over a three year period 2015-2017, the Authority failed to perfect 17 PIDs with estimated duties and taxes totalling $13.404M, which constitutes a serious breach of the Customs Regulations and can result in loss of revenues and long delays in completing ship and aircraft files.
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