MONTEGO BAY – Commissioner of Customs, Major Richard Reece, is reporting an improvement in collection from its Montego Bay Revenue Centres in St. James.
Major Reece is attributing this to success in the Customs Department’s drive to clampdown on leaking revenues and going after persons who try to beat the system.
“Recognizing the enhancing revenue measures are only $1.4 billion, the only way we can bring in additional revenues is to address leakage. The Collector has made significant strides in increasing the revenue for Montego Bay revenue stations,” the Commissioner told participants at a forum at the offices of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in St. James, on Friday (May 17).
He emphasized that it was incumbent on everyone to play by the rules so that there is a level playing field. “The (tax) penalty is so structured as a disincentive to persons (who) try and beat the system. The main focus at this time is revenue leakage, and we must ask ourselves why our fees and taxes are so high. It is a simple answer. If everyone was paying their fair share of income tax and duties, the duties and taxes would be less,” he added.
He informed that the agency is in a better position now to catch persons who under invoice and who engage in other dishonest activities at Customs.
“The majority of importers are compliant, but there is still a large number who are not compliant,” he added.
The Commissioner also informed that the department is boosting its capacity to achieve greater efficiency. “We will be determining performance standards relating to internal and external customer standards. We are reviewing the legislation in order for us to improve trade facilitations, and we recently commissioned a feasibility study to select a Customized Information System platform, with a view to full automation and a virtual paperless operation,” he said.
He explained that the study was completed and the proposal is now before the agency. He noted that while other systems are being looked at, in partnership with the Port Authority of Jamaica and the Shipping Association of Jamaica, the implementation will be completed by 2014/2015.
“There will be a phased implementation at Port Bustamante, in the first nine months,” Major Reece said.
CONTACT: GARFIELD L. ANGUS
JIS REGIONAL OFFICE, MONTEGO BAY