Importers protest F&DD

Several local importers on Friday staged a protest in front of the Ministry of the Presidency claiming that they are denied basic rights, including the right to be heard by the F&DD Head, Marlon Cole.

Protesting businesspersons outside the Ministry of the Presidency on Wednesday
Protesting businesspersons outside the Ministry of the Presidency on Wednesday

Speaking to the media, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sueria Manufacturing, Frank Sanichara said that several importers have written to the President on the issue with F&DD.
“We wrote to the President and I want to thank him for acknowledging our letter. And he said he has forwarded it to the Minister of Health, but if the Minister cannot direct this man, who do we go to?”
He said the group has made several complaints to officials to address their concerns, including Prime Minster Moses Nagamootoo and Business Minister Dominic Gaskin.
“They have received different correspondence from different companies but what is it they have done to address our problem?” He said to date, the importers are still awaiting a meeting with Government to discuss the issue.
“If we are writing you for months, and you are not taking care of us, why do you think other people would want to come? You have to take care of your local investors here so that they can make a good recommendation for you. This is total nonsense,” Sanichara said.
He said many brokers, investors and importers are afraid to speak out for fear of further victimisation.
The importers are claiming that Cole has been deliberately preventing products from coming into the country and the importers have already filed a lawsuit against him.
However, F&DD through numerous press statements have been imploring on importers to have their products registered as required by law. According to the regulations importers of food items that are to be released on the local market must be accompanied by the relevant documentation which includes and in some cases is notlimited to: a Free Sale Certificates or a Health Certificate and/or a Certificate of Analysis.
The laws of Guyana Chapter 34:03, Section 32(2) ; and its regulations # 10 of 1977 part 13 states that “ Except as provided by the regulations, no article of food , drug, cosmetics or devices shall be imported into Guyana unless the Article wholly confirms to the Laws of the country in which it was manufactured or produced and is accompanied by a certificate in prescribe form and manner that the article does not contravene any know requirements of the laws of that country and that its sale therein would not constitute a contraventions of the law.
Only recently at an importation awareness session at the Grand Coastal Inn, Cole pointed out that iimporters are only 50% of importers are actually on the department’s register. While not naming anyone, Cole said that only one company in Guyana presents importation documents, which are readily in order. “If you come to the department and your document is not right, we say request a waiver from the country that the product is shipped from, “ he said. However, in many cases persons would abuse the measure put in place , “and so we have problems with authenticity of products,” he had said.
Only recently, the F&DD had to stamp its authority on the importation of the Lilac Milk and issued the recall of the milk on two grounds – the product’s noncompliance with Food and Drug Regulation (12) of 1977, which prohibits distributing a product in Guyana that is not distributed in its country of origin. The distribution company, International Pharmaceutical Agency (IPA), have since admitted its LAILAC product was not sold in France, the country of origin but only in the Third World.
Meanwhile, Guyana Times made futile efforts to contact Cole on Wednesday for a comment on the protest by the local importers.
When contacted on Wednesday, Business Minister Dominic Gaskin told this publication that he indeed received complaints from the importers but such issues do not fall under his purview. (Alexis Rodney)