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Modernised Customs legislation will improve ease of doing business , says Clarke

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr Nigel Clarke, says the modernised Customs legislation will create an environment that facilitates greater trading opportunities while improving the ease of doing business in the 21st century. Clarke was speaking at a stakeholder consultation on the legislative reform for the repeal and replacement of the Customs Bill, at the Shipping Association of Jamaica offices, Newport West in Kingston yesterday.

“In this world we are entering, we want to be in a position where goods can easily come in by one modality and leave by another. Our Customs Act, for more reasons than one, needs to be updated to ensure that Jamaica can take full advantage of the opportunities in today's world,” he said.

Clarke said while Jamaica is ranked as the most competitive country in the Caribbean region, according to the World Bank's Doing Business Report, and the sixth most competitive in Latin America, “we are not satisfied with that”.

“Our vision for ourselves goes further than that, and to do so we have to make the border processes more streamlined, more efficient, more cost-effective, and more transparent,” he added.

The minister pointed out that the modernised legislation will build on reforms done a few years ago, which outlined the provisions to support the implementation of the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA).
He informed that since ASYCUDA came into effect, clearance cost and rates on commercial inflows have been reduced significantly, and 85 per cent of commercial shipments are released within 24 hours or less.

“The risk management when targeting cargo for examination success ratios has improved and administrative costs have come down. We have had increased revenue collection and provided accurate and timely trade statistics,” the minister noted.

In addition, he said work continues on the electronic single window, which will allow for a single point where all documents that need to be submitted, with respect to movements across our borders, can be submitted in electronic form.

He explained that the consultations will allow for the input of stakeholders before the legislation is tabled in Parliament next year.

Meanwhile, Commissioner of Customs, Jamaica Customs Agency, Velma Ricketts Walker, said the major driving policy consideration is to ensure that the Bill is consistent with international best practices and recognises international instruments.

“This document being submitted to you for your review, feedback, concerns and recommendations was drafted with the intention of meeting the needs of the modern trading environment. We hope to have an enabling legislation that contemplates modern views that are forward-thinking,” she said.

The legislative proposals are intended to achieve the following: promote socio-economic development and assist with the creation of the conditions for economic growth; facilitate the efficient processing of Customs-related transactions; aid in protecting local businesses and the international supply chain from unfair international trading practices, smuggling of goods, under-invoicing, fraud, and intellectual property rights infringement; encourage voluntary compliance with Customs laws and procedures; and further support the implementation of ASYCUDA World.

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