Jamaica Customs Agency’s Contactless Initiatives Enhancing the Microeconomic Structure in the Jamaican Economy – Minister Dr. Nigel Clarke
Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, praised the efforts of the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA), in modernising and advancing its processes for a more efficient Customs administration, while making his presentation at the 22nd Annual Customs Seminar held on September 28, 2023.
“Macroeconomic transformation of Jamaica is underway and the JCA has been aligning with the microeconomic efficiencies,” the Minister stated during his presentation.
He further highlighted some of the current automated and modernisation initiatives being driven by Jamaica Customs, namely, the Contactless Clearance Process, the Jamaica Single Window for Trade (JSWIFT), the onboarding of body cameras for Customs Officers, and the full implementation of the Electronic Passenger Declaration (C5) Form, in partnership with the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA).
These initiatives are some of the ways in which the Agency fulfills its border protection, trade facilitation and revenue collection mandates. In relation to the importance of the correlation of the three mandates, Minister Clarke noted that, “productivity and economic output can be positively impacted with border efficiency.”
Representing the CEO/Commissioner of Customs, Velma Ricketts Walker, at the seminar, Deputy CEO of Operations, Selina Clarke-Graham shared that “the JCA over the years, has been positioning itself to become a world class Border Management Authority…modernising services, implementing new and advanced technologies, building capacity and involving our key stakeholders in our effort towards maintaining and improving efficiency in our service delivery.”
She added that while these advancements help with efficiency as it pertains to time, cost, and human resource, they also allow for greater risk management which is critical in fulfilling the JCA’s border protection mandate.
Deputy CEO Clarke-Graham concluded her presentation by encouraging the key players and stakeholders to "come fully onboard as we continue our journey... to fulfilling our mission and realising our vision... of achieving world class status."
The virtual seminar hosted by the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) themed Customs and its Stakeholders Existing in a Contactless Environment while Driving Efficiency was attended by several heads of entities as well as various stakeholder groups within the trade and port community.
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As agencies within the Government of Jamaica seek to automate their processes for more efficiency and accuracy, the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) and the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) are promoting the use of the Electronic Passenger Declaration (C5) Form through the newly developed online portal, to ensure that by October 2023, all passengers Go E!
By leveraging the online declaration portal, Customs and Immigration can significantly enhance their operational efficiency, improve data accuracy, ensure security, and provide a more convenient and streamlined experience for arriving passengers.
The new online declaration portal which can be accessed at www.enterjamaica.com, offers several additional benefits when compared to the current manual form for Passenger clearance. Arriving passengers can now submit their electronic declarations at anytime from anywhere prior to travel using any smart device, thus reducing their waiting time once they arrive in Jamaica.
The online form will also eliminate incomplete or inaccurate data collection, while increasing data sharing between both Agencies resulting in enhanced efficiency and border protection.
As we urge passengers to make use of, and become familiar with the new online declaration portal, the JCA and PICA will continue to seek ways to improve and enhance the portal with additional government services for the benefit of all.
Starting today May 1, 2023, importers of Non-Commercial Less than Container Load (LCL) Cargo have the option of using Contactless Clearance when clearing their cargo at all sea ports and marine public bonded warehouses.
The Contactless Clearance pilot phase, which ran from October 2022 to January 2023, afforded non-commercial customers a more efficient, more hassle-free and less time-consuming avenue to clear their cargo while the JCA continues to fulfill its mandates of trade facilitation, border protection and revenue collection.
Having garnered feedback from freight forwarding agents and importers, Kingsley Henry, Project Manager for the Contactless Clearance Process, highlighted some plans to be executed as the process is implemented. “The JCA continues to work to improve the confidence that our customers have in the integrity of the clearance process by introducing body-worn cameras to officers who will be inspecting cargo under the Contactless Clearance Process,” he said. He further stated that payment options will be increased in the near future to facilitate the full implementation of the process for all non-commercial importers.
The benefits of the Contactless Clearance Process does not only impact the Agency and its end customers but also the freight forwarding agents. Carlos Ibar of Dennis Shipping highlighted that during the pilot phase of the process he experienced “faster processing times” and appreciated the “less hands-on work for freight forwarders.” He continued by adding that “the overall experience was pretty positive. With minor tweaks, it should be beneficial to all freight forwarders and customers alike.”
The JCA encourages all non-commercial customers to take advantage of the Contactless Clearance Process and enjoy significantly less waiting, less hassle and less stress.
As a reminder, a packing list with adequate details of the shipment should be shared with the respective agent for increased efficiency in completing an accurate customs declaration.
For additional information, email Jamaica Customs Agency at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 876 922 5140-8.
The Jamaica Customs Agency prides itself in continuous research and advancement of its processes as it fulfills its mandates of border protection, revenue collection and trade facilitation.
In 2013, with effect in 2014, the Customs Act was amended under the Omnibus Incentives Legislation (OIL) to allow productive sectors to receive concessionary benefits, such as exempted duties and charges and reduced fees, on imports through Productive Inputs Relief (PIR) for:
- The Production of Primary Products
- The Manufacture of Goods
- The Tourism Industry
- The Creative Industries and
- The Healthcare Sector
Senior Incentives Auditor at the Jamaica Customs Agency, Donna Stephens-Edwards, further highlighted another advantage of being a part of the Agency’s incentives programme. “Once you are a bona fide (compliant) manufacturer, you can access the deferred GCT payment, where you do not pay your GCT upfront.” These benefits, she said, can allow manufacturers to redirect their funds to more business-related matters.
The JCA not only provides incentives for importers but under various Trade Agreements, exports are also facilitated.
As a member of CARICOM and CARIFORUM, Jamaica benefits from eight (8) Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with originating goods imported into or exported from Jamaica under an FTA, benefitting from tariff reduction or elimination on negotiated products.
Under Preferential Trade Agreements, Jamaica is a beneficiary country under non-reciprocal preferential market access to USA, Canada and Generalised System of Preferences Donor Countries for eligible commodities originating in CARICOM and Jamaica.
These reliefs position Jamaica as a preferred location for investors and international manufacturers.
Having been in the international lubricant market for some years, co-owners Sydney Thwaites and Neil Crooks decided, based on their research, that Jamaica was most ideal to start their company, Lubricating Specialties Company Jamaica Limited (LSC Jamaica), mainly due to the incentives provided to importers and exporters through the JCA.
“The incentives have allowed products manufactured in Jamaica to compete with other markets, leading to export opportunities needed to move the needle on Jamaica’s trade imbalance,” shared Mr. Thwaites, highlighting that the company’s customer base and markets served, have been able to grow as a result of the incentives. As an advice, Mr. Thwaites shared with investors to capitalise on incentives offered as they “are key to competing on a regional level.”
The Jamaica Customs Agency continues to urge compliance with all requirements of the Agency. “As a beneficiary of the Incentives Programme, the onus is on the company to be compliant, to ensure that, other qualified individuals or companies can also benefit. Compliance is the key,” said Mrs. Stephens-Edwards. She concluded with a reminder that with the incentives, “Your company benefits, the nation benefits and the citizens of Jamaica benefit.”