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Commissioner of Customs, Major Richard Reese says the Department is clamping down on “leaking revenues” and will be going after persons who try to beat the system.

He said that additional measures are being looked at to deal with persons, who breach the Customs Act.

“You have persons, who evade duties and have excess goods. You have persons, who undervalue their cargo,” Major Reese lamented.

“A lot of persons commit breaches and we have taken a position where we even warn persons when we become aware of their operations, some heed the warning and some still get caught. We recognise that if everybody does their part, we will have less need to impose additional revenues and once we can reduce the leakage in revenue, we can actually have a more equitable system,” he stated.

He was addressing a Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC)-organised forum held yesterday (June 11), at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston, to address the new adjustment to Customs Administration Fees (CAF), which is applied to imports at the nation’s ports.

The fee structure, which replaced the Customs User Fee, was among measures introduced by the administration on April 1 this year, to increase revenue flows.  It is intended to raise $1.2 billion.

Initially, there were some glitches in Custom’s information system, which resulted in delays at the ports, but these have since been ironed out. In addition, after discussion with a number of sectors, there were reduced rates on raw materials for manufacturers, and an adjustment in fees, which took effect on June 1.

Importers are seeking further modifications to the CAF, which is applied based on the weight and type of product being imported.

Major Reese said that the Customs Department is undertaking a review of the rates, noting that “soon as that review is done, we can look at adjustments.”

“It (adjustment) has to be done when we have full consultations, just as we are doing here…we are committed to reviewing all of the fees that we have implemented, especially in the areas that have been brought to us,” he stated.

Past President of the JCC, Howard Hamilton informed that representatives from his organisation, the Jamaica Employers Federation (JEF), Jamaica Manufacturers Association (JMA), are to meet representatives from the Ministry of Finance, “to highlight some of the problems and hopefully we will be able to make some adjustments”.

“Let us remember that the agreements with the IMF (International Monetary Fund), limits any discretionary action but based on the analysis that we are putting forward, we hope they can make some adjustments, which will not interfere with the revenue streams expected but satisfy some of the anomalies with respect to small importers…and the larger importers,” he said.

 

By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter