Yesterday, Public Relations Manager of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Melissa Baird asserted that Guyana has lost and will continue to lose billions of dollars as a result of smuggling.

Items seized recently at Mahaica

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Baird said that GRA does not have enough resources to monitor Guyana’s porous borders, which prevent it from raking in the billions that are being lost.
The PR manager stated there is need for “a huge” investment in certain technologies that can enable its law enforcement officers to reduce smuggling activities.
With the limited resources that the GRA has, it has still been able to increase the presence of its law enforcement surveillance and anti-smuggling units at some of the popular points of entries.
These include the Lethem/Brazil border and the Skeldon/ Suriname border.
GRA had also established network surveillance with neighbouring countries in order to obtain information and track down large scale smugglers.
However, the latter have become so smart that they find other points of entry, where GRA is currently unable to send its law enforcement units.
Smugglers have also evolved over the years in terms of technology which aids them in avoiding the law.
In its fight to clampdown on smugglers, GRA had initiated the use of Tax Stamps. These stamps are usually an adhesive label used to collect taxes on documents, tobacco, alcoholic drinks and many other things.
Apart from this, GRA relies on tip-offs provided by persons who have knowledge of smuggling activities and smugglers.
Recently, there were reports in the media of shootouts between smugglers and officers from the Customs Anti Narcotics Unit (CANU).
In a case at Mahaica, a quantity of alcoholic drinks and chicken was seized.
In another incident, chicken smugglers opened fire on CANU officers after they were caught transporting chicken illegally at Belfield Foreshore, East Cost Demerara.
Over the years Guyana has been a port for contraband activities, ranging from the smuggling of fuel to the smuggling of gold. There have been many cases where gas stations have been placed on the radar for selling smuggled fuel.
Even recently, residents of region one complained of how they are being exploited with high prices for gasoline sold by smugglers.
Businessmen who pay taxes to import cigarettes and alcoholic drinks have also been affected greatly by the illegal activity.
One man said that a lot of these alcoholic drinks and cigarettes smuggled into country are sold at cheaper prices and create “stiff competition” for businesses who sell at higher prices because of the taxes paid.
A source told Kaieteur News that many of these big smuggling gangs are powered by affluent businessmen from neighbouring countries. These men would provide the resources needed to locals such as boats, tugs, and also the supply of goods to be smuggled. The locals would then distribute these goods locally and take the revenue back to the foreign suppliers, where the profit would then be shared.
It was also observed that unattended borders are also frequented by the “law breakers” in order to transport these untaxed “goods”.

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