GUYANA – GRA seizes boats with millions in contraband

GEORGETOWN – The Law Enforcement and Investigation Division (LEID) of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) recently seized millions of dollars worth of smuggled beverages on two trawlers which were making their way from Trinidad and Tobago.

The seizure was made in Guyana.

Kaieteur News understands that this seizure is part of a vigorous effort on the part of the revenue authority to stamp out smuggling which has led to the loss of millions of dollars in taxes.

In fact, the Guyana Revenue Authority is expected to roll out an anti-smuggling system by the end of the month. This is according to its Commissioner General, Godfrey Statia.

The tax chief said that discussions had re-commenced with Canadian Bank Note, a company that brought the national lottery. He said that those discussions were aimed at introducing the Stamp System. Statia said that this is in an effort to minimize revenue leakages through the smuggling of alcohol and tobacco.

The need to address rampant smuggling in Guyana is one that was raised by the Tax Reform Commission which was established by the Granger administration. The Commissioners said that Guyana is subjected to major revenue loss from smuggling, not only because of its porous borders but, also, from its wharf operations and ports of entry.

They said that this is especially so for fuel, gold, cigarettes and alcohol, where there are ongoing allegations that collusion and corruption facilitate such tax evasion and revenue leakage.

The officials said, “We understand that the GRA is in the process of acquiring a digital stamping programme for the latter two products at a substantial cost. It is crucial that the GRA avoids the experience of TRIPS which has failed to deliver on its promises and that it ensures that a proper assessment of all the features of programmes is examined and options and avenues considered and evaluated before entering into any contract.”

The tax experts added, “In areas of smuggling, it is known that producers and distributors have a vested interest in reducing such activity, since it reduces their bottom line. Ideally, such parties should have been requested to cooperate with any such a design, rather than having it trusted upon them, as they would be responsible for its implementation.”

The officials said it is recommended that GRA hold consultations with all the players in the field. They said, too, that it is known that digital stamps “in plain sight” are more easily forgeable, than digital markings when so placed in the packaging by producers.

Source: (Kaieteur News)

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