Sun | Oct 25, 2020

JSWIFT not fast enough - Lobbyist says portal driving car dealers crazy as losses mount

Published:Wednesday | September 16, 2020 | 12:15 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter
A facility at the Tinson Pen Aerodrome that is used to store newly imported motor vehicles and others destined for other countries.
A facility at the Tinson Pen Aerodrome that is used to store newly imported motor vehicles and others destined for other countries.

Less than two months after expressing optimism that the Jamaica Single Window for Trade (JSWIFT) would be a game-changer in the vehicle importation industry, dealers are fuming.

Stakeholders’ blunt verdict is that JSWIFT is just too slow, resulting in the accumulation of thousands of dollars in storage fees and empty space on sales lots.

President of the Jamaica Used Car Dealers Association (JUCDA), Lynvalle Hamilton, told The Gleaner that his members are frustrated over a bureaucratic backlog that is bleeding their pockets.

“From ever since the roll-out of JSWIFT, a lot of dealers have applied for licences for over a month now, and they haven’t been approved. Normally, it would take two to three days, and that is the commitment that they have given,” he told The Gleaner on Tuesday.

The processing system, which commenced on Monday, July 20, was pitched as a boon to business and a mechanism to eliminate red tape.

The Trade Board ceased accepting new applications as JSWIFT now serves as an electronic platform that allows traders to submit transactional information through a single access point. The portal provides services to support the regulatory requirements for cross-border trade in Jamaica.

However, Hamilton said that his office was being bombarded with calls from JUCDA members. Their pleas to the Jamaica Customs Agency and the Trade Board have only been met with unfulfilled promises, the used-car dealer advocate said.

“A number of dealers have been affected negatively, wherein their cars are here and they can’t claim them,” Hamilton told The Gleaner.

“If a dealer has 100 (cars in storage), it could amount to a million dollars or more ... ,” he said of the storage fees.

MILLION-DOLLAR CHARGE

A car dealer who spoke on condition of anonymity said that he has about 15 cars sitting on the wharf and is aware of other dealers with more.

“The backlog is probably about 2,500 cars that we can’t get off as importers because I have spoken to others,” he said.

“... We are charged daily for the amount of time the car sits on the wharf and nobody has said anything to us about what going to happen.”

The Gleaner contacted the Trade Board and was asked to submit questions. No response was offered up to press time.

However, a notice on the Trade Board’s website, published on September 4, spoke to backlog issues.

“The Trade Board Limited has identified 1,000 permit applications as outstanding and as at midnight Wednesday, September 2, 2020, has cleared approximately 30 per cent of this backlog,” the notice read.

“We are clearing the older applications first. We are reminding applicants whose applications are in query because of incomplete documentation to submit their outstanding documents to allow for processing and approval.”

But the anonymous dealer reported that there has been a lack of communication from the authorities. The vehicle importer of three years said that the industry is in its worst state in recent times.

“A bredrin of mine have a dealership and from me know myself going to his lot, me never go there and see space like I am seeing now. Thousands of dollars worth of cars just sitting there,” he said.

andre.williams@gleanerjm.com