Ensure barrels are cleared in time for Christmas – Finance Minister to GRA staff

…inspects operations at GNIC, John Fernandes wharves

Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh on Wednesday toured the Guyana Revenue Authority’s (GRA’s) operations at the various wharves in Georgetown in what has become an annual traditional undertaken during the busy Christmas season, when the year-end clearance process is in full swing.
In Wednesday’s visit, Dr. Singh inspected the operations at the Guyana National Industrial Company (GNIC) on Lombard Street and at the John Fernandes Wharf on Water Street, met with GRA departmental heads to outline Government’s key priorities (including highest standards of integrity, increased efficiency, and delivery of high-quality services), and interacted with members of the public who were on site to uplift barrels and boxes.
Accompanied by GRA Commissioner-General Godfrey Statia and other senior officials of that entity, Dr Singh toured the respective offices in the compound as well, meeting and greeting staff, and advising that they employ they their best efforts to ensure all holiday consignments are cleared before Christmas Day, so that respective recipient families could enjoy their holiday season.
Dr Singh has said that Government would continue to work towards rapid modernisation of Guyana through its efforts and investments, as well as in partnership with Private Sector entities.
“You have seen on most of our visits, both at the GNIC Laparkan Wharf and also at the John Fernandes Wharf, modern scanners that are able to scan barrels and small packages, and those are investments that we have been making overtime to ensure that, at all of the major ports of entry, we have the capability…and we have also been introducing risk management and risk-profiling systems and methodology within the GRA, all with the objective of deploying technology and data in a more efficient way, to facilitate more efficient Customs Operations and more efficient trade transactions and port transactions,” Minister Dr Singh is quoted as saying in a release from his office.
Singh has also highlighted that clearance of consignments would further be improved with the addition of two mobile cranes, which are soon expected to be operational at the John Fernandes Limited and Muneshwers’ wharves. These pieces of equipment would form part of the further modernisation of operations at the wharves, he said.
Further, he has urged the GRA staff to ensure they deliver efficient and effective service to taxpayers at these facilities. Dr Singh had, in October, overseen the signing of an agreement between Muneshwers and IDB-Invest for a US$4M loan to enable procurement of Guyana’s first mobile crane.
In August 2021, in an effort to ease the burden of higher cost to import container-goods into Guyana, Government had, by statute, reduced freight charges to pre-pandemic levels (March 31, 2020) in terms of the calculation of customs duties, excise taxes and input VAT on goods imported.
Government also removed VAT from a number of essential commodities upon its return to office in 2020, and VAT has also been removed from locally-produced building and construction materials.
Further, on April 29 last, Government removed VAT from cement in support of the country’s massive housing drive.
Since its ascension to office, Government has indicated that it would use this period in Guyana to build out, as quickly as it can, the foundation of a strong and competitive non-oil economy; and for this reason, Government is aggressively building out infrastructure as well as capacity in the country for modernised social services: roads, bridges, ports, hospitals and schools, among other things.