Opposition questions customs transfer

| 07/11/2018 | 11 Comments
Cayman News Service

Arrivals Hall at the Owen Roberts Airport

(CNS): The opposition leader has questioned government plans to transfer the Customs Department’s money collection function as well as enforcement into the new Customs and Border Control Agency, saying he has concerns that things on the ground are not going as smoothly as the Government of National Unity wants the public to think. Ezzard Miller said he believes it is a mistake to transfer the regular duty collection arm of the department, which falls under the finance ministry, to what will be a larger department that has security as its priority under the premier’s growing ministerial portfolio.

Miller said he is worried it could lead to a drop in the quality of service for individuals and businesses trying to collect goods.

The new border control agency will not only merge the enforcement function of immigration, elements of the RCIPS, particularly the Joint Marine Unit, and the enforcement officers from customs but also the administrative function of collecting customs duty from the regular importation of goods.

The cash collected by customs, which goes directly into Treasury, represents one of the largest sources of revenue for government coffers. Any drop in service will not only cause wider problems for the general public and businesses but could also spell problems for the public purse.

Miller believes government is glossing over a number of problems with the merger.

“I understand that there are real concerns on the ground among those public servants involved in this merger regarding how this will take shape and work after the transition, and things are not going as successfully as government wants people to think,” the opposition leader said.

He said he was aware that customs officers are happy with the new intelligence-led targeted searching because that is producing results, but there is concern that the transition could undermine that success, as they begin focusing on other security issues over and above smuggling.

“I am worried the transition poses a threat to revenue collection,” Miller said, as he queried why government has chosen to move the collection function to what is essentially a law enforcement agency.

CNS contacted the finance ministry over a week ago with questions about the impact of having a large chunk of public revenue collected via the security-focused agency but we have still not received a response.

The Customs and Border Control Bill, 2018 is now open for public consideration before the Legislative Assembly meets next week to debate this and a long list of other draft bills and amendments. The draft legislation will pave the way for the creation of the new border agency by 1 January, and the director of this new agency will not only be responsible for all border security issues but will also take on all of the duties held by the collector of customs.

Government has already announced that Charles Clifford, the current collector of customs, will be the director of this new agency. Unlike the situation with immigration, where the enforcement function has been split from the administrative and fee collection side, Clifford will continue to oversee the day-to-day collection of cash and processing of imports.

See the draft bill in the CNS Library

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Category: Local News

Comments (11)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    If they were splitting out the revenue collection Ezzard would complain about that too.

  2. Elvis says:

    Lmao at drop in quality of service πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ€·πŸ½β€β™‚οΈ

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  3. Anonymous says:

    “It could lead to a drop in the quality of service”
    Don’t make me laugh, it can’t get much worse.

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    • Victorsecret1977@gmail.com says:

      Really? I flew in this week and the longest part of my journey was the walk from the plane to immigration. Once at immigration my entire wait until i got to my car was 17 minutes. Seems like world class to me.

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      • Anonymous says:

        So you didn’t have anything to declare, see what happens when you do.

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      • Anonymous says:

        You do realise that they are referring to customs duty on imported goods not just the airport experience of people with goods to declare right? Try collecting anything from customs in a timely fashion and then comment.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Were people with Cayman passports but no right to live in Cayman stopped and questioned? Were they even identified? Were any of the hundreds of former Caymanians with no rights in the Cayman Islands stopped and questioned? Were they even identified?

        Fast processing is good, but not at the price of reasonable border security.

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    • Anonymous says:

      So true!

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  4. Anonymous says:

    ezzard seems to be more right nowadays…one roof…less freemason meetings! πŸ˜‰

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