Tue | May 11, 2021

Review the auto parts industry

Published:Thursday | April 22, 2021 | 12:06 AM


In December 2020, The Gleaner published an article about the importation of chicken back and chicken neck into the island. According to the article, the Integrity Commission recommended that the Government should cease, with immediate effect, the issuance of chicken neck and back import permits.

According to the article, the commission alleged that it found that the agriculture ministry undertook no formal due diligence in order to determine the legitimacy and authenticity of the information submitted by applicants, and lambasted the ministry for giving preferential treatment to applicants and suggested that the integrity of the award process compromised and hindered competition. Amid the commission’s concern, according to its report, only five per cent of the containers carrying imported chicken back and neck were inspected by the Jamaica Customs Agency.

This left room for corruption, said the Justice Seymour Panton-led Commission, which said it was reliably informed by a former director of agricultural services that there were times when permit holders for the importation of chicken back imported leg quarters. The duty on chicken back is lower than on leg quarters, and so the whole shipment is imported as chicken back. Similarly, the duties and taxes on chicken back is lower than on chicken neck, but the whole shipment is imported as chicken back. In the final analysis, the costs to importers who didn’t pay the right duties were allegedly lower than the costs to importers who paid the correct duties and taxes, and thus the commission’s red flag about unfair competition.

This leaves us to wonder if similar scenarios occur in other industries, such as the auto parts industry. Have you ever wondered why the cost of the same engine oil and car parts sold at one vendor cost significantly more than at another vendor? There are significant disparities between the cost of a case of a popular oil at supplier X and and a case of the same oil at supplier Y. Perhaps the erudite investigators of the Integrity Commission should look into the automotive parts industry as well. Over to you, Justice Panton.