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JIS News

The Plant Quarantine Unit in the Ministry of Agriculture has implemented new import regulations, fees and penalties to monitor the operations of importers.
The new regulations provide strict guidelines, which importers must follow when carrying out business at the island’s ports of entry.
Acting Chief Plant Quarantine Officer, Shelia Harvey told JIS News that the regulations would bring Jamaica in line with international standards and commitments “especially those under the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements and the Sanitary and Phytosanitary agreements and also to enhance the protection of our country’s agriculture. The regulations will also enhance the legal authority we have in carrying out our duty and for cost recovery”.
The rules, which came into effect on January 3, requires importers to pay fees to obtain import permits and for inspection of commercial shipments. The permits form part of the procedures manual used by the Plant Quarantine Unit and is valid for four months.
Outlining the charges, Miss Harvey explained that “for the single use permit, it is now $750 for weights not exceeding 22,000 kilograms and for weights over 22,000 kilograms it is $1,000. For multiple use permits, these are permits that are issued to persons who bring in produce on a weekly basis and for weights not exceeding 22,000 kilograms, it’s $1,000 and for weights exceeding 22,000 kilograms, it is $1,500”.
The associated cost for the inspection of commercial imports is $1,000 per shipment, she said further. The fees are payable at the Ministry of Agriculture’s head office at Hope, Kingston; and at the export complexes at the Sangster and Norman Manley International airports in Montego Bay and Kingston respectively.
Miss Harvey said that permit forms are available on the Ministry’s website in the Plant Quarantine manual. “We are planning to have it listed separately so importers can go to the website and just click on the relevant form. Once we have an email address for any importer we can always email them to the person,” she added.
A number of penalties have also been created to address non-compliance of the regulations by the importers. For instance, any person who imports a prohibited item under section 42 of the regulations is guilty of committing an offence and shall be liable to a fine on conviction before a Resident Magistrates court. Formerly, persons who brought in prohibited items would have these items confiscated without a fine.
Additionally, persons who import without a permit also commit an offence and shall be liable on conviction before a Resident Magistrate to a fine not exceeding $10,000.
“I should point out that no matter how much we fine a person for bringing in prohibited items that will never be able to compensate for the damage that could be done if an exotic pest should ever come into Jamaica,” Miss Harvey further noted.
Meanwhile, the Quarantine Unit will be holding regular meetings to sensitise importers about the new regulations.