Customs continues to surpass revenue targets
Even though its Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) World project is not yet fully implemented, vigilance on the part of the Jamaica Customs Agency led to the recent detection of attempts by at least three car dealers to circumvent the system and defraud the Government of revenue.
The web-based application allows clients to undertake e-transactions such as the submission of manifests, goods declaration, payments and processing of documents, but it is not projected to be fully operational before March 2016.
"This made us vulnerable," Commissioner of Customs Richard Reese told a recent press briefing at the agency's Newport East, head office.
Despite this, Customs is already reaping significant benefits from the partial implementation of the computerised system which has already resulted in a simplification of procedures for customers; significant reduction in waiting time, more accurate and consistent tax calculations, among other things. In fact, Commissioner Reese noted that the renewed strategy to improve trade, protect the country's borders, safeguard revenue and improve service delivery in customs administration is already bearing fruit in big way.
He pointed out that revenue collections continue to run ahead of the $105.184 billion projection set by the Ministry of Finance and Planning for the period April 1 to November 30, 2015. Over $119,263 billion was collected, $14 billion more, or a 13 per cent increase over the projected figure.
"Year on year, the agency's revenue collection recorded growth of $17.554 billion or 17 per cent from $101.708 billion in 2014. To date, the agency has attained 74 per cent of the annual target of $161.479 billion with the average monthly collection being $14.9 billion," the Customs boss proudly declared.
This is consistent with the agency's success in surpassing its monthly collection targets from a low of two per cent in July 2015, to a high of 21 per cent in 2015, with petroleum products, motor vehicles and cigarettes the main drivers behind the consistently impressive revenue performance.
In respect of seizure of contraband, drug finds were the main drivers, with cash, debit and credit cards linked to scamming also making the list.
The combined value of the 30 cocaine seizures was estimated at J$230,279,280; with the 2,249 pounds of ganja accumulated from 232 seizures put at J$11,172,495; the 2,091 sticks of cigarettes from three finds valued at J$429,230.50; and $420 the price put on the 0.084 kilogrammes of hashish confiscated.
Also seized were US$189,434; CDN$19,900; 24,180 pounds sterling - all cash, as well as cheques and money orders amounting to US$208,016.97 and CDN$112,000.
The street value of the two guns, four magazines and 85 rounds of ammunition was not available.