Press Release

US Dept of Homeland Security hosts Regional IPR Enforcement Seminar

On July 25-27 in Montego Bay, Jamaica, the United States Department of Homeland Security in collaboration with the Intellectual Property Rights Center will host a regional training seminar on how to better enforce Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).

The goal of this training is to bring together regional partners to collaborate on identifying, disrupting, and dismantling transnational criminal organizations, which benefit financially from the illicit IPR trade.  Participants in the training will be law enforcement  professionals with direct involvement in the investigation of suspected IPR crimes, including officials from Panama, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic.

The seminar will explore a wide range of topics including intellectual property theft, organized crime, health risks associated with counterfeit pharmaceuticals and tobacco, IPR enforcement strategies, and prosecutorial case development. Training will be led by criminal investigators from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security along with trade industry representatives. 

Speakers at the event will include the U.S. Embassy’s Chargé d’ Affaires, Eric Khant, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s/Homeland Security Investigations Assistant Director International Operations Ray Villanueva, the Jamaican Ministry of National Security’s  Chief Technical Director, Rohan Richards, and the Commissioner of Customs, Velma Ricketts-Walker.

 

Source: http://www.loopjamaica.com/content/us-dept-homeland-security-hosts-regional-ipr-enforcement-seminar

 

Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference

The Jamaica Customs Agency is a Proud Stakeholder in this national event!

Preparations are in high gear for the upcoming Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference from 23-27 July 2017, the official event that precedes this year’s exciting Jamaica 55 Independence activities. Our agency will be offering fast tracked special services as a “Government At Your Service” featured Agency in the Conference’s three day Marketplace.

We are looking forward to warmly welcoming members of the Diaspora to Jamaica, for what will be an informative and invigorating conference and a diverse programme comprised of planned discussions, an exposition, church services, special hospitality and cultural events and culminating, with the Diaspora Day of Service. To support preparations and planning, kindly see attached the Jamaica 55 Conference Fact Sheet. Details shared in the document include:

  • Registration Options and Procedures
  • Official Hotels, Discounts offered and Conference Codes for Booking
  • Air Travel Discount offered and Conference Codes for Booking

Please visit the conference website at www.mfaft.gov.jm/conference or contact the Conference Secretariat at dca@mfaft.gov.jm  if you should require any further information.

Fact Sheet Link – http://mfaft.gov.jm/conference/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Fact-Sheet_Ja55DiasporaConference_At10MAY.pdf

 

 

 

Jamaica Advance Cargo Information Seminar

Commissioner of Customs, Mrs. Velma Ricketts Walker, addressed the opening of the Jamaica Advance Cargo Information Seminar, involving the Jamaica Customs Agency, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

This collaboration will ensure:

  • Customs operations are modernised through the removal of a paper environment
  • Border security is enhanced through improved risk assessment
  • Full compliance with customs regulations is facilitated in advance of cargo arrival
  • Pre-assessment and less intrusive methods of inspection, increasing the throughput of cargo clearance

For Trade:

  • Airlines, freight forwarders, shippers and border agencies in over 90 countries will  ‘talk’ the same digital language
  • Consistency in Cargo Manifest Declaration from all agents and consolidators to the Agency
  • Communication across the supply chain is consistent and simplified

Regional Conference of Customs Directors General for the Americas and the Caribbean Region


CEO/Commissioner of Customs, Mrs. Velma Ricketts Walker, alongside Pedro Miguel Perez Betancourt - Director General Cuba Customs (left) and Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary General, World Customs Organisation (WCO) at the Regional Conference of Customs Directors General for the Americas and the Caribbean Region, being held in Cuba from May 15-16, 2017.

 

The conference is being held under the theme: "Achieving Customs Excellence through the Regional Strategic Plan"  and encompasses three main regional strategic goals:

To strengthen efficient and coordinated border management that considers both facilitation and security.

To promote the compliance of Customs regulations through the implementation of programmes aligned with international standards.

To develop the capacity of Customs Officers to ensure an efficient and quality service, assuring compliance with the institutional mission of Customs.

 

 

Commissioner of Customs encourages use of Advance Cargo Clearance

The CEO/Commissioner of Customs, Mrs. Velma Ricketts Walker, has reiterated that the use of the Automated Customs Management System, ASYCUDA World, is necessary to achieve greater efficiencies in a modern customs administration.

According to Mrs. Walker, one of the areas in which the Agency has seen significant improvement is the use of the advance manifest, 24 hours prior to the arrival of a vessel and 15 minutes after ‘take-off’ for aircrafts, in compliance with the 2014 Customs (Amendment) Act, and in alignment with international best practices.

The Commissioner made reference to Article 7 of the World Customs Organisation’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement dealing with Pre-arrival Processing which states: “Each member shall adopt or maintain procedures allowing for the submission of import documentation and other required information, including manifests, in order to begin processing prior to the arrival of goods with a view to expediting the release of goods upon arrival.”

She stated, that among the benefits to be derived from the use of advance manifests, is the ability of our clients to complete and submit declarations to the Agency for advanced risk assessment, which involves ‘real-time’ routing of declarations to the various electronic lanes, for pre-clearance processing.

The transition from a partially electronic environment to ASYCUDA World, which is a fully automated system, has seen positive results; importers and the Agency have seen a reduction in costs and the time required to clear goods.  However, the Agency is mindful that there are challenges in some areas and is committed to continuous improvement, for excellent service delivery.

Additionally, the enhanced border protection controls and trade facilitation initiatives with the use of risk assessment has reduced the use of intrusive methods of inspection while narrowing the scope of intervention to areas of interest.  

Commissioner Walker also indicated that the use of ASYCUDA World has enhanced the Agency’s trade facilitation arm to include, among other things, the:

  • Introduction of a standard electronic Single Administrative Document (eSAD) for all Customs transactions
  • Standardisation of  operating procedures for processing  passengers and cargo
  • Integration with regulatory agencies for cross-agency paperless processing and assessment
  • Implementation of an Advance Deposit Account facility allowing for the real-time payment of duties
  • Integration with the Port Community System (PCS) for the single submission of manifests to allow for faster port clearances
  • Revamping of procedures for new and used motor vehicles
  • Integration with Tax Administration- Jamaica and Island Traffic Authority (ITA) for automated services such as Taxpayer Registration Number (TRN), Tax Compliance Certificate (TCC) and real-time exchange of motor vehicle information, etc.

Other trade facilitation initiatives by the Agency include:

  • The Authorised Economic Operator (AEO), which is a World Customs Organisation compliant programme.
  • Site Inspection, which allows an importer to enjoy the benefit of having a shipment inspected at his/her warehouse by the Customs Officer.
  • Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) that facilitates inter-bank transfers for the payment of duties and fees, granting the importer the freedom and ease of transacting business at his/her convenience.
  • The E-Payment Facility which enables both exporters and importers to pay duties and fees at their convenience from anywhere in the world.

 The JCA is assuring its customers and stakeholders that it will continue to modernise its operations with a view to improve its operational processes, border protection capabilities and trade facilitation initiatives.

 

 

New Commissioner of Customs charges employees to maintain high performance standards; says JCA can be a global leader

Mrs. Velma Ricketts Walker who now sits at the helm of the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA), as CEO/Commissioner of Customs, effective Monday, April 10, 2017, has charged employees of the Agency to undertake their job functions at the highest level, in order that the JCA can realise its full potential and become a global leader in Customs administration.

 

Vision for Customs

In her inaugural message to staff, Mrs. Walker stated that she will “display objectivity, fairness, transparency and professionalism,” while remaining committed to the continued reform and modernisation of the JCA, which she said can become a model national agency and a global leader, emphasising that “it can be done, [and] it will be done.”

She further stated that the current perception that Customs administration is a hindrance to trade must be eliminated and that Jamaica Customs must embrace a “culture of trade facilitation,” underpinned by effective border management and revenue optimisation, as the Agency must assume the role of adding value to the logistics and supply chain process, as it seeks to meet the needs of its clients and stakeholders, in a timely and effective manner.

 

Raising the Bar in Customer Service Delivery

In her message, the new Commissioner also highlighted the importance for the Agency to maintain excellent customer service delivery at all points, and for employees to be “customer-centric, efficient and professional.” 

She applauded employees for their commitment to the principles of hard work and dedication, while maintaining ethical standards and practices, even as she emphasised that “unprofessionalism, inefficiency, unethical conduct, and low productivity…will not be tolerated.” In this regard, she urged all employees to ensure that their work ethic and attitude, is in keeping with the vision of the Agency.

 

Not New to Customs

Mrs. Walker brings to bear, a wide scope of knowledge and skills in Customs Administration. She first entered the doors of Jamaica Customs as a Trainee in 1999.  She rose through the ranks, and in 2011, she served as Assistant Commissioner, Compliance and Enforcement. She has over 17 years experience in Customs Administration, Trade Facilitation, Risk Analysis, Strategic Planning, International Trade, Security, Compliance and Enforcement. 

Before returning as Commissioner, Mrs. Walker served at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as Revenue Administration Advisor, where she assisted regional Customs Administrations with the development and strengthening of their risk management programmes and organisational strategic reform. She is an IMF certified and trained Tax Administration Diagnostic Assessment Tool (TADAT) Assessor.

 

 

No Cut in Budget for Students’ Loan Bureau

Funding for the Students’ Loan Bureau (SLB) for the 2017/18 Financial Year has not been cut.

Based on Budget allocation, the SLB is projected to receive $2.827bn from the Special Education Tax (SET) for FY 2017/18. For the 2016/17 fiscal year, a similar amount ($2.827bn) is projected to be received by the end of March 2017. As a result there is no reduction in funding from the SET. An additional $100mn in grant funds has been pledged by the HEART Trust/NTA for the academic year 2016/17 which does not repeat in FY2017/18.

Finance Minister, the Honourable Audley Shaw, in his Opening Budget Speech for the 2017/18 Financial Year stated that, “the Government of Jamaica recognizes the importance of human capital development and training towards achieving our economic growth targets. To this end… the Students ‘Loan Bureau will be reducing interest rates on loans for selected areas.”

Interest rates on Pay As You Study loans will be reduced from 9.5 percent to 6.0 percent and interest rates on Post Graduate loans will also be lowered from 13.0 percent to 9.5 percent.
Students studying in the areas of Maritime and Logistics, Agriculture and Engineering and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) will also benefit from decline interest rates from 9.5 percent to 6.0 percent.

 

 

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

Jamaica Customs Clears the Air on CAF and ASYCUDA System

The Jamaica Customs Agency takes note of the Sunday Observer article dated October 30, 2016 which raised concerns about the Customs Administrative Fee (CAF) and the Automated System for Customs Data, ASYCUDA World, which had incomplete and in some instances incorrect information.

The article made note of the approved Cabinet Decision #29/13 which was implemented by the Agency.  These included revenue enhancement and trade facilitation measures, including the reduction of the cap on Examination CAF (eCAF) to $20,000.

Contrary to the Observer’s report, the Commissioner of Customs communicated the Agency’s responses to the Financial Secretary by letter dated November 18th, 2015 and by email - December 4th, 2015.  The matter was also dealt with between the Commissioner and the Financial Secretary in a meeting on December 3rd, 2015.  On December 7th, 2015, the Agency implemented corrective measures which remain in effect.

The JCA’s revenue generating capacity is a direct function of the size of the tax base – the CIF value of imports (which is impacted by trade volumes and rate of exchange), tax measures introduced by the Government of Jamaica, and compliance initiatives by the JCA.

As at September 30, 2016, the total net revenue generated by the JCA was $93.364B or 3.2 per cent or $2.898B above the target of $90.466B. This revenue outturn was $13.727B or 17 per cent above the fiscal year’s revenue of $79.637B.

The revenue from General Consumption Tax (GCT) accounted for 39 per cent of the year-to-date net revenue, while Special Consumption Tax (SCT) and Import Duty (ID) accounted for 25 per cent ($23.677B/$93.364B) and 19 per cent ($17.375B/$93.364B) respectively.

The Customs Administration Fee (CAF) accounted for only 7 per cent ($6.653B/93.364B) of the year-to-date net revenue. In keeping with the Government’s thrust to incentivise growth enhancing sectors of the economy, CAF revenue has been reduced by discounted CAF rates to sectors such as manufacturing, bauxite and petroleum. As such, CAF revenue’s contribution to the total Agency revenue has declined from 9 per cent in FY13/14 to 8 per cent in FY14/15 with a further decline to 7 per cent in both FY15/16 and FY16/17.  The effective CAF rate is steadily being reduced to stimulate and sustain economic growth. 

Of the total cost to move cargo from the Port to Free Zone as cited by the Observer, it must be emphasised that only approximately 46 per cent would accrue to the Jamaica Customs Agency, the remainder being port related fees.

As it relates to the implementation of the Automated System for Customs Data, ASYCUDA, within the JCA, Jamaica is one of 90 countries world-wide using the ASYCUDA System.  This includes all CARICOM member states, the latest being Antigua which has the Customs Automated System (CASE), which also preceded the implementation of ASYCUDA World in Jamaica.  Panama is the latest Customs Administration in the region to express an interest in the implementation and use of ASYCUDA.  Of the 90 countries making use of the varying versions, currently 72 countries use the ASYCUDA World version as is the case in Jamaica. 

The implementation of ASYCUDA World which resulted in revolutionised improvements in conducting business with Customs has been extremely successful to date. This is evidenced in the 2017 World Bank Doing Business Report:

Both Grenada and Jamaica made significant upgrades to their electronic platforms, resulting in a substantial decrease in the time required for international trade processes. Their systems allow for the electronic submission of customs declarations and supporting trade documents. As a result, customs brokers no longer need to go to several customs clearance officers or government agencies to validate documents.”

This has resulted in a greater positive outlook for trading across borders in Jamaica. (Jamaica now ranks 67thcompared to 90th position when the ASYCUDA project commenced in 2014). The Agency supported by the multilaterals such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank foresees greater insights and improvement in Jamaica’s trade and economy that could be achieved with the expected integration of ASYCUDA World and PCS.

While three (3) agents of the Shipping Association have raised issues concerning the confidentiality of information in ASYCUDA, there has been no evidence to substantiate any breaches to-date.  That is, no entity has been able to provide evidence of its information being seen or used by unauthorised persons. 

The system mandates the agent of a ship or aircraft to authorise access to Co-loaders, Non-Vessel Operating Common Carriers (NVOCCs), Freight Forwarders and sub-agents using the entities Taxpayer Registration Number (TRN). The approval permits these entities to access pertinent information only pertaining to their cargo for further processing at the varying levels of the logistics and supply chain. Formal declarations can only then be submitted to the Agency for subsequent clearance of cargo. 

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has confirmed that no other country has had issues or claims regarding information being seen by competitors.  It is also important to note that many of the shipping lines, including the major ones operating in these countries, are the same operating in Jamaica.  Hence, any issue or claim regarding information being viewable by competitors would be unprecedented to UNCTAD in its implementation of the ASYCUDA System over the last 30 years.

The Jamaica Customs Agency wishes to take this opportunity to reassure its valid clients and stakeholders of its commitment to fostering an environment for a more efficient and transparent means of doing business. 

Customs Valuation

NOTICE

Customs Valuation

The Jamaica Customs Agency wishes to remind the public about the Valuation Principles contained in the Valuation Schedule, Section 19 of the Customs Act. The schedule specifies the rules of valuation for imported goods, the methods and the manner in which they may be applied.

 

Rights and Obligation According to the Customs Act

Section 19 (2) – Customs have the right to doubt the truth or accuracy of the information submitted.

Section 19 (3) – Customs is obligated to notify the importer of how the customs value was determined.

Section 19 (4) &19 (5) – Customs must inform the importer of the right to an appeal without penalty.

Section 19 (7) – Customs have two (2) years within which to change a previously accepted value due to new information gathered.

 

Please note: Importers are obligated to cooperate with Customs during an investigation of values.

 

The Customs Valuation methods are based on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Valuation Agreement. There are six methods:

  • Method 1: Transaction Value
  • Method 2: Transaction Value of Identical Goods
  • Method 3: Transaction Value of Similar Goods
  • Method 4: Deductive Method
  • Method 5: Computed Method
  • Method 6: Fall-back Method

 

For further information visit the Jamaica Customs Agency website at www.jacustoms.gov.jm or contact the Customs Quick Response Team via email at quick.response@jacustoms.gov.jm or via telephone 922-5140-8, 1-888-customs (287-8667).

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Mission Statement
To facilitate trade, protect our borders, optimise revenue collection, through collaborative border management and delivery of high quality customer services and to develop and maintain a team of motivated professional and competent staff.

         

Jamaica Customs Agency

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

Corporate Office
2-4 King Street, Kingston
Phone: 876 948 5151

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