JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) says it has been actively engaging members of the Diaspora to explain the new procedures and requirements under the Charities Act.
  • The legislation regulates all charitable bodies, intending to or already doing business in Jamaica. It provides an institutional and legal framework for the governance of these organisations, bringing more transparency and accountability to their operations.
  • The Act is a key requirement under the Extended Fund Facility with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) says it has been actively engaging members of the Diaspora to explain the new procedures and requirements under the Charities Act.

The legislation regulates all charitable bodies, intending to or already doing business in Jamaica. It provides an institutional and legal framework for the governance of these organisations, bringing more transparency and accountability to their operations.

The Act is a key requirement under the Extended Fund Facility with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Chief Executive Officer of the JCA, Major Richard Reese, told JIS News that the agency has held several meetings with Diaspora representatives since the Act was passed in the Houses of Parliament late 2013.

“We’ve had teams meet with the Diaspora groups in the UK (United Kingdom)…and I also went to Canada…we also attended a session in New York,” he informed.

He said the agency wants to ensure that proper guidelines are followed for importing goods of a charitable nature into the island.

“They need to know that in order to benefit under the Charities Act, they either have to register a local charity with the Registrar and have a valid Tax Compliance Certificate (TCC), or ensure that the person or entity they are consigning it to is a registered charity here,” Major Reese outlined.

He said once those conditions are satisfied then the entity or individual will become eligible for exemption from duties.

 

“Persons tend to ship things to elected officials or community leaders… and unfortunately, if those persons don’t have registered charities in operation, then the duties will have to be paid,” Major Reese pointed out.

“We can’t bring in an item and say it’s a donation for charity and get the duty free privilege without certain registration,” he further outlined.

The Charities Act stipulates that any person importing items into the country for charity will have to apply to the Department of Co-operatives and Friendly Societies.

A TCC will be issued to the individual or entity that should be certified by the JCA and used to import goods duty free.

Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Executive Officer in charge of Operations at the JCA, Karlene Henry, said the new provisions under the Charities Act is helping to make clearing and shipping of goods for charity easier and better coordinated.

“Previously, there were several delays in getting goods of a charitable nature cleared. Now, what the Government sought to do is to remove the bureaucracies with regards to the importation and clearance of charitable items,” she informed.

She further explained that although duties are waved for these charitable imports, charitable organisations are required to pay 50 per cent of Customs administration fees.

“With regards to motor vehicles, if you are a charitable organisation and you have been certified, then you will get the Special Consumption Tax free, however the import duty and the GCT (General Consumption Tax) will be payable,” Mrs. Henry noted.

However, Mrs. Henry said that there is a special provision in place for schools receiving goods from members of the Diaspora.

“Once they go to the Ministry of Education, the Ministry will send the communication to us and they will be granted the duty free status,” she explained.