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Abscence of transparency and accountability

Published:Wednesday | October 21, 2015 | 8:23 AM


Recent publications in the Gleaner have created confusion as to what is the proper procedure for importing motor vehicles into Jamaica.

In the publication on Sunday, September 27, 2015 under the caption - 'NEWS YOU CAN USE: Importing a motor vehicle states:

"All importers of vehicles (individual or commercial) are required to have an import permit before the date of report of the shipment. Once clearance is being effected, the importer has to present a licence which they would have obtained from the Trade Board".

In the publication of October 14, 2015 under the caption 'NO EASING UP Customs won't lower fines for vehicles imported without permits', the article quotes Section 210 of the Customs Act setting out the penalties charged for breaches. The article states "among those said to have vehicles landed in Jamaica before required permits were Magna Motors Dealership Ltd". This is obviously in breach of the motor-vehicle importation policy as stated on September 27.

the Customs Act

It is ironic that it appears that the provisions of the Customs Act and the required penalties were not applied to Magna Motors.

In a letter of October 15, 2015 captioned 'Over to you, Minister Hylton', it pointed out that there appears to be over 100 vehicles imported last month and another 90 this month, all without licences. I did not see where any reference was made to penalties applied according to Section 210 of the Customs Act.

What is more alarming and confusing is that in the publication of September 27, under the caption of 'CUSTOMS CRACKDOWN', the sales manager of Magna Motors said "The vehicles are being stored at Kingston Wharves, so we are not in breach."

It certainly seems that this entire matter needs serious explanation because the only conclusion one can draw is that storing vehicles at Kingston Wharves avoids the requirements to have import licences and the penalties.

Some proper explanation from the appropriate authorities as to how this situation can exist should be made because it certainly shows a lack of transparency and accountability in the importation of motor vehicles.

Joseph Carter

Montego Bay, St James