Jamaica strengthens Customs ties with neighbours


Jamaica’s ability to protect its borders will be further reinforced with the signing of an agreement with Panama to enable its Customs to undertake investigations in that country.
“We have signed agreements this week to work with the Panamanian Customs, that we have the ability to launch investigations from that end,” Commissioner of Customs, Danville Walker, told the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce’s 9th annual Customs seminar, at the Wyndham Hotel, New Kingston, on Tuesday (November 2).
He welcomed the initiative as in the past countries would refuse to help, if certain information was requested of them, such as a query relating to an invoice.
Mr. Walker further noted that Jamaica has been working to strengthen ties with certain countries, pointing to agreements with Guatemala, Panama and Belize aimed at strengthening the capacity of their Customs capacities.
“Last week I was in Panama, and we signed an agreement with Panamanian, Guatemalan and Belizean Customs – agreements to co-operate with each other,” Mr. Walker said.
He pointed out that in protecting Jamaica, relationships have to be developed with other countries in the spirit of co-operation, “because protecting us protects them”.
“They have the same issues. All the issue we have in Customs and in Jamaica, they have the same exact issues,” he emphasized.
The Customs Commissioner also noted that Jamaica was working to strengthen its ties with the United States (US) Customs.
“We have deep connections with US Customs in Jamaica. They are imbedded here. ICE – Immigration and Customs Enforcement – they work very closely with our Contraband Enforcement team, and so a lot of the information that they have, we have access to it,” he said.
Mr. Walker noted, however, that the Customs Department was seeking to formalise the arrangement to get advanced cargo information.
“What we have to be able to do, is to be able to use it easily. It doesn’t make sense you give me advanced cargo information and you give me in (paper) form. What you need to have it in is an electronic form, so that it can be integrated in our system, so that we can use risk management software to analyse it and determine what we are going to examine,” he explained.
Mr. Walker said that the Department has been “doing well” in terms of revenue collection.
“We are $3 billion ahead of where we expected to be in revenue in Customs collection, and we are about half way into the financial year or a little more. We collected nearly $2 million more in just last month alone, over the target,” he said.

JIS Social