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Customs loses revenue as Queen's 230 Warehouse remains shuttered

Published:Sunday | November 29, 2015 | 12:00 AM

The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) could be forgoing revenue of more than $30 million because of the closure of its Queen's 230 Warehouse, located on Spanish Town Road.

Operations at the warehouse were suspended due to the possible release of a hazardous material in the stripping section of the facility on November 9.

The warehouse is used as a primary location for the auction of unclaimed merchandise and goods that are shipped into the island's ports.

Responding to questions from The Gleaner, the JCA said it was awaiting test results from the National Environment and Planning Agency to determine the mitigation measures, if any, and action plan to resume operations.

While the agency continued to wait, however, it was losing revenue that would have normally been realised from the sale of uncleared goods.

The agency has said it has been disposing of soiled or damaged items in the interim. These are items that would have otherwise been sold at auctions.

With the Christmas season upon us, the increased revenue associated with an uptick in import activity at the ports may also be affected.

"Sales will be affected in respect of the auctioning of general merchandise," the JCA said in an email response to The Gleaner.


Motor vehicle auction


One particular item which will be affected is the auction of motor vehicles, an activity which earned the JCA $83.4 million last year. The agency auctioned a total of 79 vehicles in 2014.

While the agency has pocketed $96.8 million from the sale of 81 motor vehicles since the start of 2015, it earned no income from this activity in November and was not expected to earn should the warehouse remain closed through to this month.

The agency can make up to $34.6 million in one month from auction of motor vehicles, as it did in February of this year. The highest gross revenue month for 2014 was September, when the agency raked in $25.6 million from the sale of uncleared motor vehicles.

The total loss in revenue from auctions can be further comprehended when one considers all the other items that would have been auctioned alongside the motor vehicles.

The JCA has said the health and safety of its employees and the public will take precedence over all else, even as it stands by its decision to keep the warehouse closed.

"The facility will return to its normal operations once the JCA receives clearance from the relevant agencies engaged in assessment, investigation and mitigation," the JCA said in a release.