Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, said that the operations of all agencies under the Ministry that deal with enforcement and compliance, will need to be streamlined in order to ensure greater efficiency.
"In the area of enforcement and compliance, we need to rationalise our operations," Minister Phillips said today (Aug. 10), during a meeting with senior managers of the Jamaica Customs Department at Customs House in Kingston.
He said that there are a number of entities that deal with enforcement and compliance, including Tax Administration, Customs, the Financial Investigation Division (FID) and the Revenue Protection Division (RPD), and many of them duplicate the efforts of each other.
He said it is critical that the agencies, some of which are under-resourced in some areas, collaborate and better utilise resources in areas such as intelligence gathering, as persons, who are defrauding the Customs Department, "are likely to be defrauding (Tax Administration), are likely to be engaged in money laundering, and are likely to be (involved) in organised crime."
"We need to share information where it should be shared, share tasking where it can be shared and join-up our operations where it helps. There is an endemic culture of tax evasion, customs fraud, tax avoidance, which ends up placing the burden for carrying the country’s revenues on those sections least able to bear it. It’s not only morally wrong, but it is practically counter-productive," he said.
The Minister, in the meantime, praised the Customs Department for being three per cent above target in terms of revenue collection at the start of the year, stating: "so far, so good".
He noted however, that "we are going to have to maintain our vigilance, refine our systems, re-enforce our determination to ensure that we are above target at the end of the fiscal year, as we are now."
During his visit, Dr. Phillips, who was accompanied by Minister with responsibility for the Public Service, Hon. Horace Dalley, also toured sections of Customs House and Kingston Wharves.