Vehicle smuggling remains rampant, secured license plates for 2018
By Devina Samaroo
With massive tax evasion through the smuggling of vehicles from Suriname and Brazil, the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has prioritorised the implementation of special license plates with security features to clamp down on the racket.
Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Godfrey Statia told reporters at a news conference on Thursday, January 25, 2018, that over 2000 entered the country in 2017 from Suriname via the Canawaima ferry but has not returned.
For years, taxpayers would purchase vehicles in the neighbouring country, install false license plates, bring them to Guyana and evade the payment of at least $1 million in taxes.
“We even found instances where our own staff are involved in that activity,” Statia lamented.
The Tax Chief said there is an estimated 280,000 vehicles registered in the country and yet, there are a large number of vehicles that traverse the road with false license plates.
“You found that thousands of vehicles were being imported from Suriname and Brazil and were not going back and were using old registration numbers. You also found that people were abusing the process using fake vehicle numbers, fake diplomatic numbers and all these things,” Statia stated.
He opined that “the other day I saw a DPL 501. Nowhere in the United States Embassy has 501 vehicles.”
To address this issue, the Commission General said the GRA – in collaboration with other agencies – will be moving to implement a centralised system to issue license plates with security features.
“It [the initiative] was put on the backburner because we were trying to decide whether it would fall under the Ministry of Public Security or under GRA,” he explained.
Statia said a decision has not been made but talks are ongoing with all the relevant agencies including the Guyana Police Force (GPF).
Last year, prototypes of modern vehicle registration plates with security features were submitted by a Miami-based company called EuroSign to the Guyana Government for consideration.
The recommended license plates will be embedded with security features that stymie the use of falsely registered plates and enable easier tracking and identification.
In addition to curbing tax evasion, the initiative can assist in the GPF’s crime-fighting strategy.
When the idea was first floated by the incumbent administration in 2015, several roadside vendors had objected to the initiative as the new system would put them out of business.