GRA boss: Former cops for new investigative department

Godfrey Statia – GRA

The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has taken the decision to implement a crucial internal affairs department which would investigate staff members who are caught in certain “suspicious” circumstances.

This is according to GRA’s Commissioner General, Godfrey Statia.
In an interview with Kaieteur News, Statia explained that such a department is absolutely necessary for the Authority as it seeks to restore the confidence of the public in the entity as well as improve its day to day operations.    

Statia said, too, that he is interested in accountability and transparency, and it is in this light that he will be seeking to not only catch those taxpayers trying to cheat the system, but even those officials within GRA who may be working along with them.

The Commissioner-General said, “We need a proper internal affairs department that properly investigates our staff to see who is living above their means and what is actually taking place. I have been in discussions with former police officers and I have been able to get the former Crime Chief Mr. Henry Chester and he would head that team.”

Speaking to the importance of such a department, Statia reminded of some of the damning discoveries he made when he took over as Commissioner-General.

In this regard, he cited the fact that there were corrupt practices involving certain GRA staff in the Customs Department, which has resulted in tremendous revenue leakages. The tax boss noted that the Customs Department was one area which was fraught with such schemes.

“When I got there, I did a few set of analyses and I found that in the area of customs, there was lots of misclassification of imports. Based on the codes, you know that they misclassified a lot of items, and this was so that (importers) either get zero rates or lower rates,” Statia disclosed.

The GRA Commissioner-General said he found that the misclassification of imports was due to two reasons; ignorance or collusion. With respect to collusion, Statia found that there were instances where some officers were placed at the wharves just to collect benefits for their superiors.

“What we have also found is that some of the supervisors and some of the heads and wharf managers… they have their people, whether or not you like it. People were transferred to wharves strictly to collect (benefits) for their managers and their heads. I know the entire trick…”

To address the issue of collusion, the Commissioner-General said that he had to put in place a system of staff rotation.

“What that approach does, is it enables you to move people around, so that by doing so, those who take over from them have the opportunity of checking to see the work that was done before,” Statia had said. (Kiana Wilburg)

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