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GRA Facilitates Online Transactions

GRA Facilitates Online Transactions

November 19, 2021

Georgetown, GRA, November 19, 2021: The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA wishes to respond to a post on the Big Smith News Watch facebook page captioned “Is GRA Serious?” which stated, among other things that the entity has a “system that causes and costs you three and four hours of downtime running from department to department.”

This statement is vague to say the least when one considers the improvements made in facilitation of online transactions, including registration and return filing, and to some extent, payments being facilitated through its Information Communication Technology (ICT) platforms. The Authority agrees and is fully aware of the need to further improve the delivery of services beyond the current pace.

Two of GRA’ existing platforms, the Automated Systems for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) World and the Optimal Revenue Management System (RMS), do provide taxpayers with the option of utilising a virtual space rather than standing in line for filing of returns and declarations for tax and Customs related transactions and payments. These platforms can be accessed via the following links: https://eservices.gra.gov.gy/ and https://www.gra.gov.gy/asycuda/. They are a work in progress, but have equipped the Authority with the tools to respond faster to taxpayers’ expectations.

The current payment module in ASYCUDA World allows taxpayers with accounts at Republic Bank and the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI) to begin the process of paying Customs Duty online by requesting a payment order, which generates a reference number that the taxpayer submits to the bank to permit payment from their accounts. At present, the Revenue Authority is in the process of applying this model to its other Income Tax (IT) platforms, through Optimal RMS and the Licence Revenue Processing System (LRPS) online so that taxpayers can pay taxes and licence fees through similar means. Development of these payment initiatives are almost complete and are planned for implementation in 2022.

The GRA has also collaborated with wharf owners and courier services providers to install scanners at the John Fernandes and GNIC wharves, and at the Laparkan Bond at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) airport for scanning of barrels and packages, and a payment system that reduces waiting times for taxpayers, especially during the holiday peak season. The Authority has installed a fixed relocatable scanner, which now scans over 100 containers for export, and works a shift system to minimize traffic congestion.

The GRA plans to go paperless, and to this end, continues to make investments to achieve this goal. The authority continues to make major technological shifts for improved revenue administration and customer service. Collaboration initiated in 2014 with billing entities such as Mobile Money Guyana (MMG) and financial institutions that utilise National Electronic Funds Transfer, Real Time Gross Settlement and Immediate Payment Services systems, enables taxpayers to effect payment online through these entities. Unfortunately, not all commercial banks are on board, and the current culture of trusting manual transaction more than online systems has stymied the full benefits taxpayers can enjoy from e-payments services.

Notwithstanding, the efforts being made by GRA, the agency faces budgetary constraints and is challenged by the number of persons who insist on visiting our offices in person rather than utilize the online options. Ninety (90) percent of taxpayers declined to use the electronic system of filing, and payment, leading to over 280,000 taxpayers visiting the Authority’s Camp St Head office in 2020 despite the Covid-19 pandemic. These constraints have prompted the Authority to extend its opening hours for drivers’ licence lodgment, and to remain open during the lunch hour for compliance/ liability and cashier services. Tax Advisory hotline 227-6060 extension 8000, and email contact taxadvisory@gra.gov.gy  have also been publicised for taxpayers who require information and guidance for making appointments etcetera.

Taxpayers who refuse to provide their bank information, which would have ensured seamless refund transactions as is presently done in the payment of Mortgage Interest Relief refunds, stymie the GRA system of payment of refunds. Despite this, the Authority was able to work with the Ministry of Finance and via processing through the Bank of Guyana window, facilitated payment of over 17,000 tax refunds earlier in 2021. The GRA is also looking for simpler means of refunding employers through the banking system since 50% of all checks sent out to taxpayers through the mail system have been returned by the GPOC as “addressee unknown”.

Accordingly, the Revenue Authority is encouraging taxpayers, the majority of whom have internet access, to make full use of, and develop trust in existing systems to gain the inherent benefits.

The management of the GRA takes pride in the services that it provides to the taxpaying public and will continue to work tirelessly to improve its efficiency by investing the necessary resources to achieve its objective of a paperless Revenue Authority. The Authority welcomes constructive criticisms, and appeal to taxpayers to provide continuous feedback through the Authority’s helplines and by email.

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