The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) stands firmly on its motto: “Country Above Self” and its core values of Customer-centricity, Accountability, Professionalism, Integrity and Transparency (CAPIT), and remains committed to its mandates of facilitating trade, protecting Jamaica’s borders and collecting revenue on behalf of the Government of Jamaica.
The JCA has sought ways to improve its overall efficiency as a public sector entity and has invested resources in several areas within the Agency, in order to improve its business and operational processes, and border protection capabilities, with the goal of achieving greater compliance in all areas.
The Agency also recognises that enhancing compliance is critical to protecting the nation’s purse and has instituted several mechanisms in support of this, to include improving its ICT capabilities (ASYCUDA World), allowing for greater accountability and transparency; expanding its trade facilitation initiatives; strengthening its internal assurance mechanisms in all areas of governance; and transforming the Agency’s legislative framework, as it pertains to the repealing and replacement of the Customs Act.
An Executive Agency since 2013, the JCA prides itself in being the second largest revenue collector for the Government and continues to play its part in keeping the economic wheels of Jamaica turning. Currently, the JCA contributes approximately thirty eight percent (38%) of the Government’s tax revenue.
At the end of the second quarter (April – September) of the fiscal year (FY) 2018/19, the JCA’s revenue outturn stood at $111.316B. This was approximately one point seven percent (1.7%) or $1.843B above the targeted collection of $109.472B, and ten percent (10%) or $9.709B over the previous year’s collection of $101.607B. In the last fiscal year, the Agency successfully collected $207.848B, surpassing the target by $0.075B or 0.04%.
Jamaica operates in a global space and must remain competitive in order that the country can continue to improve its performance ranking, regionally and internationally. Therefore implementing initiatives that are geared towards effective trade facilitation continues to be a major thrust for the JCA. The Agency is cognisant of the need for the ease of flow of goods and passengers at the country’s borders which will result in a reduction of processing time and associated costs.
The JCA in addition to several Border Regulatory Agencies (BRAs) will benefit from the implementation of an Electronic Single Window (ESW) which will allow for the single submission of information by traders via an electronic gateway to all trade related and cross border government agencies, instead of submitting the same information multiple times to different government agencies. The ESW project started on August 2, 2018 and is expected to be completed within thirty six (36) months.
In addition, the JCA has been undertaking several initiatives to reduce the clearance time for goods and passengers, some of which include:
- Collaboration with Border Regulatory Agencies, ports and warehouse keepers in improving efficiencies at the port.
- Implementation of an Express Cargo Clearance Process (ECCP) which is a simplified process for clearing small personal shipments from the ports and public bonded facilities.
- Piloting of flexible working shifts to facilitate declaration processing on a twenty-four (24) hour basis for several categories of goods.
- Sensitisation sessions to the private sector on the benefits of the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) programme which is geared towards compliant traders. This allows for expedited declaration processing and clearance of goods with little to no physical inspection of cargo.
- Conducting tours and ‘walkthroughs’ of companies, manufacturing plants and operational areas to better understand their business operations to facilitate ease of doing business with the JCA.
- Expansion of the “Nothing to Declare” channels at the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) to allow for the speedier flow of passengers.
The proposed new Customs legislation will retain some of the provisions of the current Act and will introduce new provisions geared towards trade facilitation and international best practices.
Additionally, the area of risk-based compliance and selectivity in Customs processing or treatment will be part of the new Act, which is slated to be tabled in Parliament come March 31, 2019.
The new Act will allow for:
- Improved transparency – use of modern terms will increase the ease with which the legislation is read and understood.
- Improved dispute resolution – provision of administrative appeal processes for all Customs decisions.
- Increased predictability – introduction of binding advance rulings.
- Increased facilitation for compliance with Customs processes – persons with a record of compliance will benefit from added facilitation.
It is crucial that the public has confidence in the integrity of the Agency, and as such, the JCA has instituted several anti-corruption measures to ensure transparency and accountability in all areas of governance. Among some of these measures are:
- The security vetting of all Customs employees.
- The establishment of Investigative Units (Investigation Unit, Internal Affairs Unit)
- A structured rotation system for Customs Officials.
- The Implementation of the Customs Automated System, allowing for transaction traceability.
- The collaboration with other government entities in combating fraudulent activities.
With a highly trained and committed staff, the JCA will continue to play its part in undertaking its mandates and functions effectively, in keeping with Vision 2030: National Development Plan, where Jamaica will not only be the place of choice to live, work and raise families, but to also do business.