Statement from the Commissioner of Customs - Jamaica Customs and the Fight against Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Infringement

STATEMENT FROM COMMISSIONER OF CUSTOMS

Jamaica Customs and the Fight against Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Infringement


The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) acknowledges the information presented by Carreras Ltd. at its recent press event. Several issues must be taken into consideration when assessing the current impact the illicit trade is having on revenue:

  1. The advent of several additional players in the tobacco market (two local manufacturers and new importers) and the impact this is having on Carreras’ market share and its bottom line.
  2. The figures being quoted emanates from historical data, to include figures from the time of the introduction of the tobacco regulations, when there was an appreciable drop in revenue due to the uncertainty associated with the introduction of the new regulations.
  3. As can be appreciated, commodities which attract high levels of tax will be increasingly attractive to smugglers.
  4. The matter of the uncontrolled ports of entry is also to be considered. The fact is that there is a very active illegal maritime trade route from Haiti and South American countries which is being used to smuggle various forms of contraband, to include tobacco products. The resources do not exist to effectively monitor these areas which run from Portland to Westmoreland.
  5. Increased production of local tobacco and its use as a substitute for finished cigarettes in the form of GRABBER must also be factored. It has been estimated that currently local tobacco production accounts for at least 100 million sticks of cigarettes.

Counter Measures

The Christmas period sees increased volumes of cargo at all ports as well as passengers, which translate to the increased opportunity for smuggling. To minimize the possibility of contraband entering the country the JCA has intensified its enforcement activities from as early as September. These include increased collaboration with our enforcement partners in the areas of intelligence gathering and sharing, as well as on enforcement operations.

To increase our successes, we see the increased use of technology as both a deterrent and an enforcement tool. In furtherance of this, a team consisting of persons from the JCA, the Ministry of Finance’s, Financial Investigation Division (MOF/FID) and Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) has been tasked to investigate the possibility of introducing Tax Stamps as an effective means of controlling the tobacco trade. The use of more modern scanning equipment with the ability to better identify high risk cargo is also being explored.

Operations to Date

The JCA continues to partner with other arms of law enforcement as we seek to protect the borders and increase revenues. In furtherance of this, the JCA has embarked on several operations aimed at removing illegal tobacco products from the streets as well as to prevent their entry into the country. Below is a summary of the results of those operations for the calendar year to October.

 

NUMBER OF CIGARETTE SEIZURES BY MONTH FOR 2016

MONTH              

NUMBER OF SEIZURES             

CIGARETTE                      

JANUARY

2

 1,530 sticks

FEBRUARY

4

27,392 sticks

MARCH

5

 1,978 sticks

APRIL

5

1,766 sticks

MAY

5

72, 541 sticks

JUNE

3

4,570 sticks

JULY

2

1,696 sticks

AUGUST

0

0

SEPTEMBER

1

84 sticks

OCTOBER

2

491,441 sticks

NOVEMBER

 

 

DECEMBER

 

 

 TOTAL # OF SEIZURES        

29

29

QUANTITY OF SEIZURE

 

602,998 Sticks

STREET VALUE

 

JMD$24,119,920.00

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Jamaica Customs Agency

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Myers Wharf,
Newport East, Kingston 15
Phone: 876 922 5140-8 | 922 8770-3

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