House Approves Bill to Collect Levy on 2011 Conch Exports

Story Highlights

  • The mandatory collection of conch levies originated from the passing of the Conch (Export Levy) Act in 2009
  • The Principal Act requires that for any conch season, the rate ought to be prescribed by the Minister by Order
  • A rate of US$1 for the 2012 conch season has since been prescribed

A Bill to validate and confirm as lawful, the acts done in good faith by officers of the Veterinary Services Division in the collection of levies from conch exporters in relation to the 2011 conch season, was passed in the House of Representatives on July 23.

Piloting the Bill – The Conch (Export Levy) (Validation and Indemnity) Act – Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, explained that the mandatory collection of conch levies originated from the passing of the Conch (Export Levy) Act in 2009.

He noted that this Act came into being in order to facilitate the sustainable management and  development of the fisheries sector in Jamaica by imposing a levy on the export of conch, and establishing the Fisheries Management and Development Fund.

“Since the 2009 conch season, a levy has been imposed on each pound of conch exported from Jamaica.  This levy was US75 cents in the 2009 conch season and US$1 in the 2010 conch season. Those two rates were promulgated by Section 3 1A and B of the Act, respectively,” Mr. Clarke said.

He explained further that the Principal Act requires that for any subsequent conch season, the rate ought to be prescribed from time to time by the Minister by Order, subject to affirmative resolution of the House of Representatives.

The Minister pointed out that a rate was not prescribed for the 2011 conch season, since it remained at the US$1 as it was for the 2010 conch season.

“The Ministry was under the misguided impression that once the rate was not increased, it was not necessary to promulgate a rate. Consequently, officers of the Veterinary Services Division collected the levy of US$1 per pound of conch exported during the 2011 conch season,” Mr. Clarke said.

He said that the Attorney General advised that it was necessary to prescribe a rate for the 2011 conch season and for all subsequent seasons. A rate of US$1 for the 2012 conch season has since been prescribed, but to date no rate has been prescribed for the 2011 conch season.

“It is therefore necessary to validate and confirm as lawful the acts done in good faith by the officers of the Veterinary Services Division in connection with the collection of levies from conch exporters in relation to 2011 conch season, at the rate imposed for the 2010 conch season, being US$1 per pound of conch exported,” the Minster noted.

Meanwhile, Opposition Spokesman  on Agriculture, J.C. Hutchinson, said he supported the Bill.

The Bill was passed without any amendment and will be sent to the Senate for its approval.

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