Finance Minister inspects GRA operations at GNIC, John Fernandes wharves amid hectic year-end clearance process
–urges fast and efficient clearance of Christmas consignments
Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh today visited and toured the Guyana Revenue Authority’s (GRA) operations at the various wharves in Georgetown. The visit has become an annual traditional one during the busy Christmas season when the year-end clearance process is in full swing. During today’s visit, Dr. Singh inspected the operations at the Guyana National Industrial Company’s (GNIC) on Lombard Street and the John Fernandes wharf on Water Street. There, he met with GRA Department Heads to outline his Government’s key priorities (including highest standards of integrity, increased efficiency and delivery of high-quality services) and also interacted with members of the public who were on site uplifting barrels and boxes.
Accompanied by Commissioner-General Mr. Godfrey Statia and other senior officials of the GRA, the Senior Finance Minister toured the respective offices in the compound as well, greeting and speaking to staff, advising that they ensure that they make their best effort to ensure all holiday consignments are cleared before Christmas Day so that the respective families can enjoy their holiday season. Dr. Singh said Government will continue to work towards rapid modernization 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,” the Minister further explained.
Minister Singh highlighted that clearance of consignments will further be improved with the addition of two mobile cranes expected to be operational soon by John Fernandes Limited and Muneshwer’s. These pieces of equipment will form part of the further modernization of operations at the wharves. He also urged that the GRA staff ensure that they deliver efficient and effective service to taxpayers at the facilities. In October this year Dr. Singh oversaw the signing of an agreement between Muneshwer’s and IDB-Invest for a US$4M loan for the procurement of Guyana’s first mobile crane.
In August 2021, in an effort to ease the burden of the higher cost to import container-goods into Guyana, Government, 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 VAT has also been removed from locally-produced building and construction materials. Further, on April 29 last, Government also removed VAT from cement in support of the country’s massive housing drive. Government has indicated since its assumption to office that it will 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 is aggressively building out infrastructure as well as capacity in the country for modernized social services, roads, bridges, ports, hospitals, schools etc.