The Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) has concluded that the 33 containers of rice which were returned from Panama in the last quarter of 2018 were “switched” after inspection.
However, officials cannot say how this was possible.
In September 2018, Panamanian authorities rejected the rice shipments after it was found that parboiled rice was shipped instead of the requested White Rice.
At a press conference Tuesday, General Manager of the GRDB, Nizam Hassan said an investigation was completed into the incident which found that none of the agency’s staff were culpable.
“We ourselves looked at the procedures, the timeline when the rice was packed as against when it arrived at the wharfs and for instance rice is finished packing on Fridays, the containers may be hauled down to the wharfs on a weekend of Mondays but I can’t tell you definitively that none of our officers have seen the switching of the rice,” Hassan told the media.
The Rice Miller who was the supplier, Feyaadul Hakh of Cane Grove, East Coast Demerara, has since accepted responsibility for the shipment which he deemed a “mix-up”.
Through a representative, Attorney-at-law K. A. Juman Yassin, Hakh noted that, “There must have been some negligence involved and as the owner of the mill, I have accepted responsibility and will ensure that in future there is more stricter safeguards and control.”
He further apologised for the inconvenience and embarrassment caused.
The miller had funded the cost to return the shipment and all other processes which followed. According to Hassan, the law does not provide for any further penalty.
Subsequently, another shipment was sent to Panama.
Panama is one of Guyana’s major export market and purchased 66,206 tonnes of rice in 2018. This was an increase from the 40, 043 tonnes of rice purchased in 2017.
The GRDB is also seeking answers as it relates to 70 tonnes of rice confiscated by Jamaican authorities earlier this month valuing approximately $4.6 million.
While this issue was reported in the local press, the GRBD has not received any information from authorities in Jamaica or from the miller.
According to Hassan, efforts have been made to seek the intervention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Guyana to to deal with the issue.