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Customs changeover begins

Published:Wednesday | October 29, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Only two employees at the Jamaica Customs Agency have, to date, opted for retirement as the state-owned body pushes ahead with plans to change to an executive agency under the country's public sector transformation programme.

The Jamaica Customs Agency is being changed to enable it to effectively carry out its operations autonomously.

The Government has set aside $1.8 billion for pension payout at Jamaica Customs and Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) as part of the transformation.

Only persons who have served a minimum of 10 years and have had at least one permanent appointment are eligible to benefit from a pension payout.

Major Richard Reese told The Gleaner yesterday that he had reapplied for his job as head of Customs and had been successfully appointed. He is now the CEO. He also said the staffing aspect of the changeover at Customs is expected to be completed by year end.

"We are in the final stages of completing our executive management team, and the next level will be the managers," Reese said.

He told The Gleaner that in addition to his being hired as CEO, the new-look Jamaica Customs had hired two deputy CEOs and senior directors.

"All managers and above will be on performance contracts," Reese noted, while stating that a framework agreement, which speaks to things to be delivered under his watch as well as the need for accountability, had been put in place.


"We are currently in the process of rehiring persons. Those who are in the operational areas, we have advertised those positions internally; the non-operational positions like IT (information technology), HR (human resource) are advertised service-wide within the public sector. If those vacancies are not filled internally, then we will advertise externally," Reese said.

In addition to the shake-up of human resource activities at Customs, the modernisation programme is being aided by legislative agenda to allow for greater use of technology in the execution of its functions.

The House of Representatives has passed a bill that will allow the commissioner to establish an electronic communication system for purposes such as the communication, by electronic means, of any document or information that is required or authorised to be provided to or by him to any person.

The bill also proposes that the payment or collection of customs duties or any other tax, duty, fee, or other amount collectible by the commissioner may be done electronically.

The commissioner is also to be given the power to implement electronic systems to expedite the process of dealing with the importation and exportation of goods and the movement of persons entering and leaving Jamaica.

Parliament has approved the spending of $278.9 million this fiscal year to continue the public sector modernisation programme.