Customs House Weekly Series #15
Jamaica Customs Combating Corruption: How You Can Help Us
Corruption or allegations of corruption, can threaten the social, political and economic development and stability of any country, as it erodes public trust and confidence in government officials and public servants. Corruption, from a Customs perspective, involves, among other things, individuals (including employees) taking deliberate steps to evade Customs laws and other related legislation, which governs the administration of Customs procedures or processes.
The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) recognises that like many other public sector entities, it has a duty to operate and conduct its affairs with the highest level of integrity, and has therefore instituted several strategies, geared at combating and ultimately eliminating corruption. Therefore, against this background:
- What measures have the JCA employed to combat malfeasance practices or corruption?
- What policies guide the Agency’s thrust to combat corruption?
- How can the public assist the Agency in combating corruption?
Strategies to combat corruption including the following:
- Engaging in the security vetting of all employees
- Establishing investigative units (Investigation Unit, Internal Affairs Unit)
- Developing the Agency’s Integrity Manual (2016)
- Implementing a rotation policy for employees
- Automated assignment of work using the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) - allows for the traceability of all transactions via the system
- Establishing an Anti-corruption & Ethics Committee (chaired by external personnel)
- Collaborating with other entities such as Tax Administration, Revenue Protection Division (RPD), etc., in combating breaches, tax evasion or fraudulent activities
- Offering confidential access by the public to report matters of corruption to the Agency
It is the policy of the JCA to recruit, select and promote employees, in accordance with professional best practices, the Public Service Regulations and Staff Orders of the Government of Jamaica (GOJ). Additionally, the Agency utilises a rigorous security screening process for all potential and existing employees, in accordance with its Security Vetting Policy.
In keeping with the provisions of the WCO’s Revised Arusha Declaration, the Agency has taken steps to deploy, rotate and relocate its employees in order to remove opportunities for Customs personnel to hold vulnerable positions for long periods of time.
The JCA has also integrated risk management into its operations, in alignment with international standards and best practices as outlined in the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC) and the WCO’s SAFE Framework of Standards, in order to ensure that ethical standards are upheld.
The Agency’s Anti-Corruption & Ethics Committee, more recently, commissioned and approved the development of the Agency’s Integrity Manual (2016) for employees. Among other areas, this Manual stipulates and guides how employees undertake their job functions and interact with business clients, customers, other stakeholders and each other.
The ASYCUDA System
The ASYCUDA system has seen the JCA, and its customers, reaping the benefits of the automation of its business and operational processes. ASYCUDA World has allowed for the full integration of risk management, post clearance audit and an electronic manifest system. Since risk management principles are built into this application, such as the requirement for staff to use their credentials to document their actions, and the use of different access levels; transparency, accountability and traceability are supported, which strengthens the integrity of the system, and the JCA as a whole.
Investigating Allegations of Corruption
It is crucial that the public has confidence in the integrity of Jamaica Customs and its employees. In order to ensure this confidence is maintained, complaints brought against employees are investigated promptly and objectively.
The investigative functions of the Border Protection Division and the Internal Affairs Unit provide a systematic and thorough process involving the examination of an incident or allegation, whether internal or external. Importantly, the Agency’s trained investigators conduct their duties in an independent, impartial, thorough, timely, discreet, and sensitive manner, at all times.
How the Public Can Help Us
Members of the public can help the JCA in its thrust to combat any form of corruption that threatens the integrity of Customs’ operations, by contacting the Agency’s confidential lines at 922-5141, extensions: 3401-3404 between 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.; or 922-1626, 898-8240 between 6:00 p.m. -12 midnight. You may also email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Information provided will be treated confidentially.