…urges importers to escalate concerns about delays with AuthorityFollowing concerns being expressed by importers of an alleged ban on importing items such as fruits into Guyana, a senior official from the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has denied the existence of any ban.The Guyana Revenue AuthorityIn fact, the introduction of the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) is supposed to help fast-track these transactions, although persons have contended otherwise.According to information reaching this publication, one importer in particular has encountered stumbling blocks when importing fruits. While that importer’s cargo was eventually released after delays, the importer was reportedly informed by GRA officials of prohibitions when it comes to importing such items.When contacted, Deputy Commissioner General of GRA, Hema Khan, denied that there was any ban on the import of fruits and similar perishables. She explained that there are systems and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in place to deal with perishable items.“They should have been using that system. We have implemented ASYCUDA, and we put a special review in place for those persons, whereby as it arrives it can be released (in a timely manner). So you don’t have to go through the regular risk profiling. There’s no ban, and we’ve already catered for (that); so I don’t know why they would have a problem.“But they should (ventilate) it with management if they have a problem, because we do cater for those kinds of scenarios: the early release of perishable items; we do have a different SOP to deal with that.”ASYCUDA World is a recognized Internet-based system of documentation used in most of the Caribbean territories to bring about significant benefits in customs and trade, such as the reduction in processing time of customs documentation, and the quick release of imported and exported goods.Its introduction to the GRA was premised on the failure of the previous Total Revenue Integrated Processing System (TRIPS) to deliver as expected, with relevant customs modules such as e-manifest, want-of-entry, and warehousing.There, however, have been complaints that enough education did not precede the introduction of the system. While GRA did hold consultations with stakeholders, there is a perception that sensitisation efforts did not go far enough to reach importers.In addition, concerns have been expressed about the narrow window within which importers can lodge declarations before the ship arrives. However, GRA has said that the delay is necessary to ensure manifests and the relevant documents cross match.