Customs Amendment Act for joint select committee
Another key deliverable under Jamaica's four-year agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is making its way through the nation's Parliament.
The House of Representative, yesterday, agreed for the Customs (Amendment) Act, to be sent to a joint select committee for consideration. The tabling of the bill by June 30 is a structural benchmark which was met.
Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips will chair the committee which includes Dr Morais Guy, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing; Anthony Hylton, minister of industry, investment and commerce; Member of Parliament (MP) for South St Catherine Fitz Jackson; Opposition Spokesperson on Finance Audley Shaw, and North Eastern St Andrew MP Delroy Chuck.
The Senate is to name its committee members.
The Customs Act was first passed in 1941. Phillips said that the Act, in its present form, continues to have an adverse effect on trade facilitation and operations relating to the shipping and aviation industries.
"The proposed amendments to the Act will facilitate the Jamaica Customs Agency's observance and implementation of international best practices and standards, and will assist in providing a framework for the efficient movement of goods through the ports in anticipation of a logistics-centred Jamaican economy," the minister said.
Among the new provisions in the bill are clauses which set out goods that are subject to customs control. For example, the bill states that goods are subject to the control of the Customs Agency from the time of importation until the time the goods are lawfully removed from a Customs area. The bill said further that special requirements for the handling or processing of goods prior to entry, including requirements for the measurement or weighing of goods, may be prescribed by the commissioner of customs.
It has been proposed in the Bill that the commissioner may, by notice in writing, require a person to produce for inspection by any officer, documents or records that the commissioner considers necessary or relevant to an investigation or audit under the new Customs Act.
If a person who is required to produce documents or records, shall do so within 60 days of the date on which the notice is given or received or within such extended period as the commissioner may allow, is liable to incur a penalty of $2 million.
The bill also states that a person who transports, or causes the transportation of, any amount exceeding US$10,000 or its equivalent in any other currency of cash, into or out of the island, shall make a declaration with respect thereto in like manner, as if the cash were goods for the purposes of this Act, and if he fails to do so, the cash shall be liable to be forfeited.
Cash is defined in the bill as including bank notes and bearer negotiable instruments denominated in any currency.
"These amendments are intended to ensure that importers and exporters will be able to conduct legitimate business in a more efficient environment, and that effective penalties are imposed on persons who operate contrary to the customs laws. In addition, the current amendments seek to further support the operation of the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA World), which was established by the Customs (Amendment) Act, 2014," Phillips said.