Thu | Nov 15, 2018

PAAC summons Ja Customs and finance ministry to Wednesday meeting

Published:Monday | January 22, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Wykeham McNeill

Chairman of Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) Dr Wykeham McNeill has summoned senior technocrats from the Ministry of Finance and Jamaica Customs to its next meeting on Wednesday.

The committee says it wants the Ministry of Finance to clarify whether it was the minister's intent to transfer liability for general consumption tax (GCT) and special consumption tax (SCT) to the Ministry of National Security, when it wrote a letter in November 2017 committing the latter ministry to a six-month moratorium in relation to 66 vehicles imported by O'Brien's International Car Sales and Rentals Limited for the police force.

"In light of the fact that the Ministry of National Security is not signing the letter giving moratorium ... what is the current status of those motor vehicles that are already on the road?" McNeill questioned.

To date, O'Brien's has delivered 34 of the 200 vehicles it was contracted to hand over to the Ministry of National Security.

At Wednesday's PAAC meeting, permanent secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Diane McIntosh, said her ministry made it clear that it would not pay the GCT and SCT and the supplier has since committed to pay the amount.

"We didn't sign any agreement about moratorium," said McIntosh.

She said it was Jamaica Customs that sent her a copy of the letter dated November 23 that was signed by the finance minister.

The letter stated that the Ministry of National Security would be required to pay the full SCT and GCT no later than May 23, 2018. "Failure to comply with the payment condition of the moratorium will render the goods uncustomed, thereby liable for seizure by Jamaica Customs."

"They sent it to me and asked me to sign and I said, 'No! I am not signing it'," McIntosh said in relation to Jamaica Customs.

"Customs emailed me the agreement for signature, at which point I asked, 'On what basis is this agreement emailed to me?' Then they sent me a letter from the Ministry of Finance."

Committee member Mikael Phillips bemoaned the idea that the November 23 letter placed liability on the Ministry of National Security, and that the permanent secretary did not know of the document until the day she appeared before the PAAC on November 29.

Phillips said the Ministry of Finance, which signed the moratorium letter, "needs to answer."