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The Role of Government Office is to Protect and Serve, not Terrorize and Rob

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First Published: 24th of August, 2021

Last updated: August 25, 2021 at 11:07 am

Dear Editor,

I write with reference to a recent incident where Mr. Marlan Cole’s Office, the Food and Drug Department, went to a citizen’s home at Industry Village, Region 4, and seized about 4 million dollars’ worth of Brazilian colognes and perfumed products which were legally imported into Guyana using an import license at the Customs office in Lethem, Region 9. I would like to assert that this act is immoral, unlawful and incendiary.

When the four officers, Carol Edwards, Triston Jones, Jennel Rodney, and Susanna Atkins arrived at the home of the businessman, Mr. Annandram Persaud, they requested to enter his premises. The businessman did not put up any form of resistance or barrier but gave full cooperation. The officers then asked to see Mr. Persaud’s business registration. He showed them – and it was in full effect. They asked to see his import license. He furnished it to them and they were satisfied. They asked to see his import taxes receipts. He showed it to them. They were satisfied. They asked to see the conditions under which the cosmetics were being stored. He showed it to them. They were satisfied. At that point, Ms. Carol Edwards hastily declared that they were going to seize all the cosmetics, over 1,100 bottles, because they were not labeled in English.

The four officers then proceeded to tape all the boxes up, load them into their vehicle and drove off to the Food and Drug Office at Turkeyen, Region 4 where they said they would keep the products in a room for 3 months and then crush and destroy the products if their demands are not met. Mind you, the law states that the businessman has 3 months to fulfill the requirements and a further 3 months to re-export the products. It is either then, that these officers are not educated in the laws under which they operate or they are simply playing stupid, or they are just in a hurry to steal the products or ruin the businessman’s finances.

The Food and Drug Department did not give an official notice to the businessman in writing, but told him that in order to get the products back, he must get the factory in Brazil to translate the labels and send a notarized authorization to the Food and Drugs Department for him to use the labels. The businessman contacted the factory in Brazil with this request, but the factory declined saying that the quantity of imports is too small for them to do official label translations. To put this into perspective, the factory sells an average of 10 million of these products across Brazil in one day, so it would be impractical to do official translation of labels for 1000 units every six months – which is less than 200 units per month.

This is a clear case of domestic terrorism being committed on citizens of Guyana. This, in my opinion, is a clear case of white collar bandits using a government office to rob and deprive citizens of personal property.

It is my opinion that the right thing for the officers to have done in the situation described above was to ask Mr. Persaud if he was knowledgeable of the laws requiring English label translations. And at that point, if he said he didn’t, show him from the Regulations where it states that cosmetics must carry English label translations. However, it is my opinion that they couldn’t because such a law does not exist.

But even if such a law did exist, some leniency on the part of the Food and Drug Department would have been commendable since the businessman was not made aware of the law when he purchased his import license nor was he advised of such a law when he paid import duties at customs.

What leads me further to believe that this was an act of attempted robbery is the fact that the officers also seized 39 bottles of Brazilian colognes which did have English translations on the label. They did not bother to check the labels. Instead, they aggressively and hastily stuffed and taped everything and carried it away. They returned those 39 bottles one week later with an apology after the businessman insisted.

In a statement to the lawyer of the businessman, Mr. Cole commented that he was not aware of the seizure until after it was executed. A preaction letter was sent to the Food and Drug Department and the response of the Food and Drug Department is being awaited before proceeding to engage the court’s process.

But my question, Mr. Editor, is why should a government office push a citizen who has complied with all legal requirements into such a costly litigation process? These officers, in this context, are not only eating up taxpayers’ dollars, but are unleashing terror on the same taxpayers whose taxes keep them in office.

Sincerely,

(Name and Address Supplied)

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