THE EDITOR, Sir:
The proposed change to vest the importation of refined sugar with the Sugar Industry Authority (SIA) will not have any different result as long as there is a duty rate differential for manufacturers and the retail trade.
The problems being encountered are varied and many and outlined are some of the challenges faced by the authorities:
(1) The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA), which has responsibility for monitoring the importation and use of refined sugar, does not have the manpower to police the industry bearing in mind the JCA's focus on trade facilitation and voluntary compliance with post-clearance audit conducted subsequently.
(2) The difficulty in unearthing irregularities is that unscrupulous manufacturers fabricate production records to match output based upon production of syrup standards. Also, it is alleged that manufacturers of syrup and juice are invoicing refined sugar to the retail trade as finished products; however, this has never been proven.
The suggestion by the SIA that there will be higher scrutiny under its watch should the regime be returned would not result in any improvement in revenue based on the aforesaid.
I dare say that there would have to be 24-hour staff presence at each manufacturing plant.
The only solution to the problem is the imposition of a single rate of duty say, five or 10 per cent, for manufacturers and retailers.