Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Embrace int'l best practices with caution, says Customs boss

Published:Monday | May 22, 2017 | 5:00 AMChristopher Serju
Commissioner of Customs Velma Ricketts Walker (right) seems to be getting a good grasp of the issues faced by custom brokers and freight forwarders from custom broker Georgia Hinds during yesterday's annual general meeting of the Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association of Jamaica. The Customs boss delivered the keynote address at the function held at the Four Seasons Hotel in St Andrew.

The proper application of international best practices can significantly improve one's business competitiveness, but should not be adopted wholesale without serious study to determine the suitability to domestic and regional circumstances.

Commissioner of Customs Velma Ricketts Walker yesterday gave this warning during her keynote address to the annual general meeting of the Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association, held at the Four Seasons Hotel in St Andrew.

Ricketts Walker charged those in attendance to get familiar with the revised Kyoto Protocol and its potential impact on their line of business.

This international treaty extends the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that commits state parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, based on the fact that (a) global warming exists and (b) human-made CO2 emissions have caused it.

"They have proposed where customs broker services should be optional. Are you aware of that?" she asked.

Following a chorus of "yes" to her question, the Customs boss, in turn, said: "But we are a sovereign country, right? So we would have set them right."

She added: "A lot of times we get very carried away because you want to sound like, you are doing all the right things, but international best practices must be applicable to you. You must be able to put it in and have the resources to apply it, and it must not interfere with your own sovereignty and it must not damage an industry."

 

INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS

 

Despite this, the commissioner highlighted the need for her agency and customs brokers to work together to provide innovative solutions to future needs of the international trade community. She charged them to embrace technology in order to enhance their ability to be competitive on the global stage.

"Now, it is my vision for the agency to be a global leader in customs administration, and it can happen, she insisted.

"This is not nuh big dream. It can happen. Of note is the recent statement by the secretary-general of the World Customs Organization, Dr Kunio Mikuriya. For him to come and have praise for the JCA (Jamaica Customs Agency), it means a lot because sometimes we don't recognise and realise how much we have been doing.

"Customs has come a long way, but there is still more to do because I don't believe in getting comfortable and complacent and saying 'well we have arrived'. No, we have not yet arrived."

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com