– Human Resources, Customs Head fired
By Alexis Rodney
The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) on Monday announced that it has made significant changes in what it said are some critical areas of operation, with the firing of the Heads of the Human Resources and Customs departments.
The tax collection body announced also that it has promoted another senior staff to the position of Deputy Commissioner General.
These changes, according to chairman of the governing board Rawle Lucas, are being done as the organisation seeks to realise its objective of improving its relationship with Guyanese taxpayers, and increasing the collection of revenues.
Head of the Human Resources Management Division Archana Joshi and Head of Customs, Jameel Baksh have been relieved of their duties
“We were not satisfied with the extent to which our revenues were being collected with respect to our customs operation and we felt that it was in the best interest of the organisation to make some changes,” he explained
Emanating from an in-depth review by the board and from a number of concerns raised by the business community, Lucas said the GRA has reshuffled the system, taking former head of the law enforcement and investigation division Carol Chapman to oversee the transition programme.
The transition programme he said, is the new vehicle now being used, to put the organisation back on its right path. According to Lucas, currently GRA operates as a functional type organisation that essentially reflects functions or tasks that have to be performed by various persons.
According to him, it was found that those organisational arrangements are insufficient to enable the authority to maximise revenue collection.
At an earlier media conference this year, Lucas said some economic centres have not been generating as much revenues as they ought to. The new transition programmes should help to turn things around.
“In the view of the board, the functional structure leaves large amounts of revenues uncollected and communities of taxpayers underserved and the staff demoralised. The new transition programme will focus on the regional approach to revenue collection and focus on taxpayers’ needs, ease of doing business and creating a more acceptable working condition for the staff. All the regions will be more equipped to provide all the services being offered at to persons in Georgetown,” Lucas had said.
He shared the experiences of persons outside of the capital city, noting that it costs a businessman in Lethem some $50,000 for him to have a compliance certificate which is given free. He said this is only because the service is not provided in Lethem.
Lucas said GRA has moved to extend several services such as the validity of compliance certificates from three to six months, has undertaken a review of the internal policies affecting staff and have begun to examine a number of proposals relating to compensation and education policy.
“GRA also looked at some other measures particularly those relating to trade facilitation in order to help with the expediting of the clearing of certain goods.”
According to Lucas, the organisation recently held interviews for the position of Commissioner General, which is currently being held by Ingrid Griffith. He said the evaluation of the candidates who took part in the interview is still to be completed as the organisation has been functioning without a substantive head for some time now.
He reported that Fitzroy Corlette, who has been functioning as head of projects division will now head the Law Enforcement and Investigative Divisions. Lancelot Wills, an international trade lawyer will take over Customs division.
The board also on Monday appointed Hema Khan as Deputy Commissioner General. Khan had worked as the Deputy Commissioner for tax operations and services.
Acting Commissioner General Griffith has proceeded on leave, however upon her return she will take up full responsibility of the cooperative services.