Kaieteur News – I have been in active struggle to change Guyana for the better for over 50 consecutive years. I am going in to 33 consecutive years as a newspaper columnist with several of the top newspapers here. I have been a practicing academic at UG for 26 consecutive years. What is the point? I have studied my country. I know it.
I am going to show you now the evidence, the proof that I know my country is troubled. In my Sunday column, titled, “My brother-in-law died at the Georgetown Hospital three days ago,” I ended with these words; “Every visitor in the GRA looks sad as you enter. This is my country in the 21st century.”
Why did I write that? Was there any basis for such chastisement? Here is the reason. Yesterday, at around 9AM, I went to the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA). My task was simply to collect a form, which is right on top of the reception desk. You ask and you get it and you are gone.
I figure once you pass through the security room, it will take less than a minute to collect the form. I approached the security hut. There were about 20 persons in the line on the parapet under a tent. I was daunted. I knew I had to join the queue and I know that was downright wrong because I just needed a form.
The gentleman at the entrance told me I have to join the line. I refused. I told him that cannot be right and no sane GRA person could support such an atrocity. I rang someone I knew in the GRA. My contact told me that if it is just a form you want then it should not entail waiting. He asked me to use his name. I gave his name to the big man at the entrance. The big man told me to wait again. He let three persons in.
I knew what I had to do. I never wore a wristwatch so I took out my “mango pelter” and began to count the time to walk in, collect the application and walk out. I asked the receptionist, she gave me the document and when I reached the exit in the same security hut, I spent 50 seconds in the GRA. I ask every sane human on Planet Earth, why did I have to wait behind 20 persons, taking up about half an hour just to get a simple piece of paper that is available right at the counter inside the GRA?
I came out and confronted the big security guy. I asked him if that was GRA’s policy. He affirmed it was. I then told him I will write about it so I will need his name to make my case credible. He refused. I told him I need his name to protect my newspaper in case the GRA denies what I described. He still refused.
I went back into the GRA building and requested to see a higher authority. This fellow came down, and identified himself. He said he was from GRA security and his name was Mr. Gibson. I complained about the security affirming a GRA policy but refusing to give his name. Mr. Gibson then gave me the name of the security rank, Mr. Bourne.
Mr. Gibson said to wait in line for an application or a form is a policy that may have to be looked at. He suggested I speak with a higher authority. As I walked out, the line had increased to about 30. Many, who had the same motive like me for visiting the GRA, would have stood in that queue for over half an hour just to get a form. Wait a minute! Wait a minute? You think this sickness happens in the GRA alone?
As you enter the NIS building, there is a lady at the desk on the ground floor to whom you have to ask for a form. All I wanted was a life certificate form. The lady was taking a complaint from someone and told me to wait. It would have taken her literally five seconds to hand me the form and I was gone. I insisted she pick up the form and give me.
How many quiet, fearful souls have the aggressive instinct like me to defend their rights? This article will fade in a few days’ time and there will be no notice at the outer desk of the NIS and security hut of the GRA informing people that you should not have to wait in line if you just want to pick up a form. Really man, how can Guyana be so backward?
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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