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JACRA forms alliance with Customs over commodities cess

Published:Wednesday | June 20, 2018 | 12:00 AMAvia Collinder/Business Reporter
The building which housed the Coffee Industry Board at Willie Henry Drive off Marcus Garvey Drive is now the office for the new Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority, which became operational in January 2018.

The Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority, JACRA, may be in the process of searching for management talent, but its collection mechanisms appear to be firmly in place.

The Ministry of Investment, Commerce, Agriculture & Fisheries, MICAF, said Monday that it was still processing licensees and would not know how many producers and traders are likely to fall within reach of the new authority until it completes that task.

But in the meantime, MICAF said it has devised procedures for collecting the cess on commodities to fund its operations.

JACRA, a new regulatory agency which came into being on January 1, is under fire for the cess, which has impacted traders, importers, exporters, growers and producers. The agency has already lost its first chairman, Richard Pandohie, as well as operational head Everton Hanson, who was not confirmed in the position and departed in May, two months after he was hired to manage the agency.

MICAF said Monday that while the JACRA cess is not collected at the port, the commodities regulator has an arrangement with the Jamaica Customs Agency, JCA, under which goods subject to the charges will not be cleared unless the company presents evidence of payment issued by the offices of JACRA.


Charges on crops


The charges, ranging between 18 US cents to US$2.40 per kilogram, affect six crops and their derivations - turmeric, ginger, pimento, coffee, cocoa and coconut. The rates took effect April 1.

"Following a meeting with representatives of both JCA and JACRA in April 2018, discussions were held on how best a relationship could be forged with the JCA to allow JACRA to be in a better position to collect the requisite cess on the regulated agricultural commodities and products made from these commodities at the points of entry and exit," said MICAF.

Arising from the discussion, an importer is now required to first inform JACRA of the regulated agricultural commodity being imported. This notice should include, MICAF said, a full description of the commodity, the quantity, value, estimated arrival time, and any other information considered relevant.

Where required, JACRA will then seek approval of the minister in charge of MICAF - currently Audley Shaw - for the importer to be granted a permit for the commodity.

JACRA will calculate and advise the importer of the cess charges to be paid; the importer will remit charges to JACRA; and the regulator will then issue authorisation allowing clearance of the commodity or product.