A vessel, linked to at least one government official, has been held by the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) with more than 200,000 gallons of smuggled fuel and would be released after GY$36 million in taxes have been paid, Commissioner-General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Godfrey Statia said Tuesday.
“We have actually boarded the vessel until our taxes have been paid,” he told a news briefing.
Named “Jubilee”, Statia said the GRA was examining Maritime Administration and Demerara Harbour Bridge records to ascertain the number of times the vessel has entered Guyana and also passed the Harbour Bridge. “We would then be in a position to determine if there was actually a hiccup in the system or the person was actually trying to smuggle fuel,” he said.
The Commissioner-General said the fuel was not declared and the GRA boarded the vessel.
Statia acknowledged that there were some shortcomings at the Customs Boathouse where persons were trying to put the entry in after the boat was boarded.
The GRA and the Guyana Energy Agency recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work closely to stamp out fuel smuggling that Statia said “is alive and well”. One area of concern, he said, was fuel for interior locations that is exempted from taxes was being transported to the coastland. “We have to be extremely vigilant on that and that will always happen once there is cheap fuel on our border regions,” he said.
The Commissioner-General recalled that in similar seizure last year, the captain had been fined GY$20 million to release the vessel.