The Jamaica Import/Export Inspection Centre, expected to reduce overlaps and gaps in the import/export inspection process, was officially opened Tuesday (June 23) during a ceremony at Port Bustamante, Newport West in Kingston.
The Centre will operate as a ‘one stop shop’, housing all the regulatory agencies with responsibility for human safety, animal health and plant health, which fall under the Ministries of Agriculture and Fisheries; Industry, Investment and Commerce; and Health, as well as the Jamaica Customs Department.
Established as part of the Public Sector Modernisation Programme (PSMP), the facility will also shorten the processing time, and minimise the need for importers/exporters to make multiple visits to the regulatory agencies to do business. It will offer a more co-ordinated and efficient approach to the inspection process of traded goods.
Health Minister, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, in his message, said that the Centre is being opened at a time of heightened surveillance in the global health arena.
“The development and implementation of this physical facility to house all the regulatory agencies involved with the importation and export of food and other items is an important development that could facilitate the strengthening of our surveillance, data collection and analyses,” he said.
Noting that food and waterborne diarrhoeal diseases are the leading causes of illness and death in less developed countries, with approximately 2.2 million people, including 1.9 million children, dying annually from these diseases, Mr. Spencer said that there is need to close the gaps in data collection and analyses.
He said that closing these gaps will enable policy makers to appropriately allocate resources to food borne disease prevention and control efforts; develop new safety standards; assess the cost-effectiveness of interventions; and to quantify the disease burden in monetary costs.
Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, said that his mandate is to improve the consistency of farmers and farmers’ efforts, in terms of quantity and quality levels.
“But, as we do that, we are going to have to ensure that there is a market to dispose of what we have, and in fact, we start from the market and then backward, linking into what needs to be done at the primary level,” he explained.
“This facility is absolutely critical to that value chain, which is the approach that we have been taking in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. It’s not just about what the farmers grow, it is how we convert what they grow, all the way through to those consumers, wherever they are, locally and internationally,” he said.
Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding (l) gets ready to declare the Jamaica Import/Export Inspection Centre open. The Centre which is described as a ‘one stop shop’ is located at the Kingston Container Terminal Berth 11, Port Bustamante, Kingston. Chief Plant Quarantine Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Sheila Harvey; Health Minister, Hon. Rudyard Spencer; Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, and Industry and Commerce Minister, Hon. Karl Samuda, were all on hand to assist the Prime Minister
Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Karl Samuda, said that the initiative will lead to the containment of costs and the development of the level of competitiveness.
“We are going to be able to export more competitively and earn badly needed foreign exchange, and that will help in terms of our external account,” Mr. Samuda said.
He pointed out that the establishment of the Centre will reduce processing time from 12 to 24 hours down to six hours.
Chief Technical Director in the Public Sector Modernisation Division of the Office of the Cabinet, Hillary Alexander, observed that the Centre is being implemented on a phased basis.
“At this stage, inspection will target the areas of health and food safety and a limited range of non-food items. When fully operational, the Centre will co-ordinate import and export inspection for both food and non-food consumer goods,” Mrs. Alexander said.
She added that a web-enabled system will allow user interaction and will link the Ministries with the Jamaica Customs Department through the E-Trade Point system, creating a virtual network of all Government agencies involved in trade facilitation.
“Full integration with the E-Trade Point System will then provide a seamless and, eventually, a paperless process, linking the Jamaica Customs Department and all the regulators who provide permits, licences and inspection of imports and exports,” Mrs. Alexander further noted.
She advised that several systems for import permits have already been tested and are operational in the Ministries of Industry, Investment and Commerce, and Agriculture and Fisheries.
“We will soon be piloting the pharmaceutical mode in the Ministry of Health,” Mrs. Alexander added.
The next phase will see improvements to the Centre’s physical infrastructure, with the construction of the customer service area. It will accommodate approximately 35 clients at any one time, and will be outfitted with up-to-date equipment and internet access.
Following the ceremony, Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding, along with other Ministers and officials, toured the facility.