Miller makes bid to change Customs Law

| 16/06/2020 | 85 Comments
Cayman News Service
Ezzard Miller in the LA, 20 May 2020

(CNS): Ezzard Miller, the independent member for North Side, is making another attempt to persuade government to amend the Customs Law to cut all duty on medicines and medical supplies and to introduce a provision to prevent duty being applied to returned and replaced goods on warranty. When the Legislative Assembly meets at the end of this month, opposition members will, this time, be allowed to bring private members’ motions.

The meeting, set for the 29 June, is for government to steer through yet another batch of amendment bills, largely to address compliance issues for the financial services sector.

Miller told CNS that he has filed two motions, both dealing with the customs legislation, which he hopes government will take on board.

It is his second attempt at asking government to make medicines and medical supplies duty free and he believes that this time government may be persuaded to take up the idea, which it has rejected in the past.

With an aging population needing increasingly sophisticated and expensive healthcare, including drugs and other supplies to support chronically ill patients, especially those receiving regular and often long-term cancer treatment, it is becoming more difficult for people to meet the costs, he told CNS.

Miller said that because the drugs used in such treatment are expensive, cutting duty on medicines and medical equipment, which ranges from 12-22%, will make a significant difference to patients battling increasing healthcare costs.

He is also asking government to amend the Customs Law to provide for ‘zero-invoices’ to deal with repairs and replacement of goods that people have already paid duty on.

For example, at present if a resident here needs to return a piece of electronic equipment to the store or manufacturer where it was purchased overseas because it is faulty but under warranty, when the replaced or repaired goods come back, customs charges the owner duty on the original price of the item for a second time as well as on any repairs plus shipping costs that have been incurred.

Miller said this is unfair and often costly for individuals or local businesses that have to return goods. He said that when he experienced the problem, he was advised by customs that they had to charge the duty because there was no way to create a ‘zero-invoice’. He said he was advised to seek a waiver from the finance ministry.

But he said that is not the solution to the problem. People should not have to seek such a waiver because the duty is not due as it has already been paid. He also pointed out the impracticality of seeking such a waiver every time and the discretionary nature of such an application.

Miller said a simple amendment to the law would prevent people from being penalized and paying twice when their goods are faulty through no fault of their own.

The North Side MLA has for years shot holes in the customs tariffs and government’s failure to use legislation to promote positive actions when it comes to buying goods and discourage unhealthy behaviour or inequities in retail.

Miller has, to no avail, urged several administrations to review various anomalies in the customs legislation, such as duty placed on healthy foods like vegetables while butter and sugar are duty free, and the fact that a number of imports like perfume, china and leather goods that merchants sell in their waterfront stores are all tax free.

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Category: Laws, Politics

Comments (85)

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  1. Nicholas Robson says:

    As a British colony the Cayman Islands should be leveraging the immense purchasing power of England’s National Health Service (NHS). This would enable a savings of ⅓ to ½ of pharmaceuticals ordered via the NHS, thereby savings Caymanian citizens hundreds of thousands of dollars yearly.

  2. Anonymous says:

    How about Kurt giving 25 year duty-waivers to developers that don’t honour their agreements…

  3. Anonymous says:

    If we’re getting the red marker pen out, can we please get rid of the duty on hypothesized cargo insurance? Tailgating? Let’s simplify all these nickel and dime, made-up taxes, and micro thefts. The Port is the least financially transparent and most corrupt/conflicted of any CIG ministry. Has been that way for a long time. If your agent/broker fails to collect your cargo within 5 days, it starts accruing warehousing fees at some unpublished rate without any notice or accounting to goods owner. Consequently a lot of material winds up being abandoned there when warehousing exceeds the value of goods – and then auctioned off to friendlies.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Why there is no mail delivery to houses and businesses in the Cayman Islands?

    • Anonymous says:

      You expect Caymanians to walk outside in the summer and deliver mail? They might get wet!

  5. Tom says:

    They must drop freight duty charge. Why we have to pay freight duty even they are not in cayman islands also stupid 1% insurance charge. It will lower living costs but government are just being greedy as usual….they want fat pay cheques!

    • Anonymous says:

      The fat pay cheques are not enough for some of them. Maybe some of them are skimming on the side. How many?……. Take a guess.

    • Anonymous says:

      Charging duty on insurance that never existed is fraud.

      • Anonymous says:

        When my car landed the dock boys put a dent in the side. The damage was over $600 but their coverage was only $150. I never understood that.
        Because the vehicle was over 10 years old, it was not able to be covered for that damage. (In pristine condition I might add. It had been garaged until shipped over) Got all the way here and was damaged on the GT dock. But I was still charged an insurance fee and duty on that as well.
        Way to go! Way to take responsibility!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Can anyone please tell me what the Leader of Opposition Mclean have been doing for the last several months?

    • Anonymous says:

      the east end action man…..zzzzzzzzzzz

    • Anonymous says:

      Well, for the last several months he was trying to…………… No, not that. He was getting ready for…………… No, not that either. He was looking at…………. No, he never got anything done there. He was thinking that he would……. No, not that either! What HAS he been doing???? And the bad news is…….. he is not alone!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Silly rabbit. Caymanian Culture sticks to the “take all you can and give nothing back” rule. they will never change a rule that gives to them directly and takes from everyone else.

    • Anonymous says:

      Correct. Dormant accounts law, New Pension law are just two examples. They enact and enforce it at the speed of light.

  8. Anonymous says:

    It is rare for me to agree with Ezzard, but he is absolutely right on these two points. I hope that government puts petty politics aside and listens this time.

    • Anonymous says:

      I would bet all in my pension that they don’t do it. Nothing will be said until they all agree on what the stupid excuse will be this time. Standard procedure.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Why does it matter what medicines cost ?
    Dont we have health insurrance?

    O no, we dont.

  10. Kman says:

    Thanks Wizarrd and maybe add an exemption of $500 duty free for returning visiting Caymanians who “aren’t residents” to the list. Another step would be to have a duty free section for arrivals and a 24 hour mini supermarket.

  11. Anonymous says:

    …..and why does CBC/Customs charge 1% insurance on every shipment? They shouldn’t be in the insurance business. My broker fees include insurance, as it should, but not pay it to Customs too.

    • Anonymous says:

      Plus $1-3 per package for no reason at all.

      • Anonymous says:

        Fyi, not all freight forwarders charge this per item. Per shipment, yes. So I think that money is not going to gov, but to the freight company clearing the items.

      • Anonymous says:

        If you are referring to the $ for package tax and warehouse fees, this is the handling charge for the customs warehouse taking possession of your goods, holding them while you fight over inaccurate perceptions you have with the customs law, then delivering it to you where you will and no doubt always have, grab it and walk away with disdain and not even a thank you… hmmm… do you work for free?

    • Anonymous says:

      And why am I being charged duty on the cost of shipping when receiving a gift under the $30 value?
      Genuine question – Is duty charged on the cost of shipping on a gift of under $30??
      No one is answering the phone at Customs.

      • Anonymous says:

        I paid $4 to clear a Christmas card last year!!!

        • Anonymous says:

          No, you paid someone to clear it for you if it came through a mail service or you paid the warehouse or -a Kate tax fee for goods entering cayman…

      • Anonymous says:

        I just paid $16.16ci to receive a homemade mask and a pack of toothbrush….the toothbrush was for $3.03usd. Just senseless to me.

      • Anonymous says:

        Duty is charged on the CIF value, that is the value of the goods including the cost, freight to get it here and insurance, which if not taken or specified is assumed to be 1% of cost and freight. So yes, duty is charged on ALL costs related to getting it from the point of origin to your tight little hands here in paradise…

        • Anonymous says:

          7:23P – Thank you for this however, I am not sure that it answers my specific question about a gift.

          I have never paid duty on a gift of under $30 in value. It has been a long time since I have received a gift from overseas. Has this changed?

          I came back to see if anyone was able to answer my question which was specifically:
          Is the 22% duty charged on the cost of shipping for a GIFT being sent to me. This is not a purchase I made online.

          I was charged 22% duty on the gift ($6US x 22%) plus the cost of the FedEx ($150 x 22%)? Is that correct?? Please if anyone knows I would be grateful.
          The $6 bill of sale was included and it was marked as a GIFT.

          Therefore I paid $40KYD in duty for a $6USD gift because the FedEx fee was $150US. The sender did not realize that I would be charged for his generosity. He felt horrible that it cost me that amount to receive the $6 gift.
          (It was a surprise or I would have advised him NOT to send by FedEx in order to get here on time for my birthday. I do not mind a birthday present that is a week late)

    • Anonymous says:

      Take all you can and give nothing back law. Everyone knows this.

    • Anonymous says:

      They don’t charge insurance. They charge duty on insurance and if no insurance, they assume that it would have cost 1% so they take duty on the 1%. Or .22% for most stuff… check your facts so you don’t look ignorant…

  12. Lesta Xation says:

    I commend Mr. Ezzard for taking on the monster that Customs & the New Customs Law has become. I agree with his point, it is IMMORAL for Govt. to charge citizens Duties on Medication, ESPECIALLY Life Saving Medication. That is literally amounts to profiting off the pain suffering of it’s citizens!
    I would also like to add a couple of additional points if I may:
    1) Charging Customs duties on Freight is wrong. Duty on freight is normally used to balance the cost of cheaper imported goods against locally manufactured goods (to promote fair competition). We live on an island that has to import everything. Charging Duty on Freight drives up the cost of living unnecessarily.
    2) Introduce ‘De minimis‘ value on Imports (cost of goods, not C.I.F) of CI$100. It costs Govt. more to collect Duty on a paperclip than the revenue earned from it.
    3) Create a “Tiered entry” scale. Personal shipments under a certain value (say US$2,000.00) should be regarded as an Informal Entry. There should be no requirement for this ridiculous TIN (TAX ID Number) for personal shipments under this value. Individuals are ‘Traders’.
    4) Stop requiring people to register for a TIN # & Agent Authorization UNTIL the CBC Website is set up so that the Importers can register themselves Online with CBC. The new COLS system has too many bugs that still need to be fixed and it is unfair to punish the Importers and Brokers when COLS is not up to speed.

    • Anonymous says:

      COLS works perfectly, but like many computer systems it is ‘garbage in, garbage out’. And most brokers put in a lot of garbage or half-a$$ paperwork then blame customs for doing their job. I have used the various customs systems for over 25 years and done right, the current system works perfectly. In fact, I did a regular weekly entry yesterday at around 5pm and got a confirmation it was passed by 6:30pm. Before Covid customs closed pretty much at 4pm. Now COLS and Covid work practiced has a near perfect system working.
      As for trader registration, it is a simple process but like all new systems it is new and a change and resistance is natural. But it actually protects all parties and makes prosecution of duty evaders more traceable and chargeable, so unless you are hiding, do the one-time registration (as in most major countries) and move into the 21st Century – it is quite nice up here…

  13. Anonymous says:

    The true leader of the Opposition once again making complete sense.

  14. Teacha 2 says:

    Makes a lot of sense – hopefully government sees it that way as well.

    • Anonymous says:

      So it never crossed your mind before? It has been this way in Bermuda since forever.

      Are Bermudians intellectually superior to Caymanians? Just wondering.

      • Anonymous says:

        Well they call themselves belongers…is that something intellectually superior ppl do?

      • Teacha 2 says:

        Who says that it never crossed my mind before? My statement was simply that Mr. Miller was correct in his position and that hopefully government saw it the same way. Your nonsense about my statement having anything to do with Bermuda is something entirely of your imagination.

  15. JTB says:

    I presume, because it’s Ezzard we’re talking about, that somewhere in there is a caveat that Any waivers or reductions in duty should only apply to born Caymanians?

  16. Anonymous says:

    They should include vitamins. In some instances, I pay 10 times more here than in the U.S. for a specific vitamin my doctor tells me I should take instead of a prescription drug because of the side effects it caused me. Of course, the insurance company won’t cover the vitamin, but would cover the prescription drug.

  17. Anonymous says:

    The underbelly of the government’s bad policies and decisions are finally being exposed..Too bad it took coronavirus to bring them to light..

  18. Anonymous says:

    Why do we pay top dollar to import Cannabis oils, yet Caymanian scientists like myself can’t grow this God given herb and extract the medical oils for local prescriptions and exports?

    • Anonymous says:

      Because whoever has the license to import it will be making less money. Don’t ask the obvious questions or people will start getting upset.

      • Anonymous says:

        Those who have a license have a lawsuit against customs for allowing import of a product then seizing weeks after being available.

    • Anonymous says:

      Because you aren’t very smart.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ga come better than that. Unless you’re implying the ones keeping it illegal keep it so because they profit from the inflated black market

  19. Anonymous says:

    I have to agree with the Big Ezz on this one.

  20. Tom says:

    I don’t have a problem with return repaired products simply go to custom export office at airport to show them and they will give you a letter to be duty free when product arrive back Cayman. I done few times.

    • Anonymous says:

      This not exactly about what you speak of. I just the failure of a mechanical component from the USA. Thankfully my dealer in Miami supplied a replacement since the defective part was still under warranty. The replacement part came in via courier but I still had to pay duty on the shipping and the nominal fee entered on the invoice for the replacement part.

      I had another issue last month with an automotive part that was incorrectly sold/supplied by a vendor in the USA. I filled out a RATA form in the part I’d already paid duty on but the courier has yet to apply for a duty refund on my behalf after the correct part arrived.

      The system is obviously not working and it takes between 6-9 months to receive a duty refund from CIG.

      Ezzard should be applauded for bring this motion to abolish duty on replacement parts under warranty.

      • Anonymous says:

        If you ship out or surrender the old part to them when the new arrives, there is only duty on the freight – fact. Providing it is a genuine warranty and within a reasonable period. I had it honored for a lifetime warranty on a faucet that was in a a house I bought – I didn’t even buy the original item. But when the situation is explained and relevant backup proof provided, it is easy. Of course, if you try and keep the old part, customs has every right to charge as you will now have two imported parts in your possession. If you let them scrap the bad one or export it and show them the steps taken, you will be fine. Keep calm and follow the rules and give them what they ask for – you will get far better results than walking in with a bad attitude and confrontational tone. Trust me. I have been doing this for over 25 years!!

      • Anonymous says:

        Not to mention the enormous amount of time required to sort this out

      • Anonymous says:

        If your part of the tribe or get someone in the tribe to act for you it’s easy.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Traditionally, it has been possible to physically go down to customs during operating hours (forgoing whatever employer mission and GDP contribution that person should be doing), buy a $0.25 form for a warranty return duty waiver, fill it in with a pen you brought yourself, present the goods for return for inspection, with original proof and receipt of duty paid, and then send them back on their merry way at your cost. Few will attempt this more than once, because it is a time-consuming pita, and usually economically impractical (forgone work time exceeding duty return value). This engineered hassle insulates our cartel business leaders that gouge local consumers dangling local warranty protection (which is highly variable). We need consumer protection agencies to counter the opposing missions of Cayman’s many commerce agencies, and reject corrupt governments that operate hand in glove for the merchant class. It is this complicity with corrupt policy that makes goods needlessly expensive.

    • Anonymous says:

      Generally any special situation anywhere in the world will require a little of your time and effort, Princess… Not everything in life can keep falling at your feet….

      • Anonymous says:

        Curious to see if you’ve actually tried yourself. I’m sure you’d be singing a different tune if you have. There’s this new thing called the internet makes all sorts of processes super simple. You should look into it.

        • Anonymous says:

          If doing it about 10 times a week counts and using the internet counts, then yes is your answer…

      • Anonymous says:

        Like a job in Civil service?

  22. Anonymous says:

    Duty on medicines is UNETHICAL!

    CIG would rather make luxury goods like jewelry & perfume duty-free than giving Caymanians a break in their everyday lives. There should be no duty charged on fresh produce or medicine.

    • Anon says:

      They make those items duty free so that tourists will put a little more cash into the Cayman economy. If they weren’t duty free they would not be sold at all. Caymanians, by and large, have more sense than to waste their hard earned cash on such foolishness.

    • Anonymous says:

      Haven’t you heard? The now have a law that makes them honorable so now nothing they do is UNETHICAL by law of the Cayman islands. Say goodby to confusion.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Add to this why duty on diesel is by the gallon rather than the price paid. Seems like a way to conceal the actual cost from the regulator.

    • Anonymous says:

      There’s a regulator?

    • Anonymous says:

      Wouldn’t take much to elude Of.Reg..

    • Anon says:

      The economists can estimate pretty accurately how many gallons will be sold. If the duty went up and down with the price per gallon it would be very difficult to make a spending plan. One year there would be an excess and another a shortfall.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, we might have to do 1/1000th of what countries dependent on the price of oil for their overall economic health have to do so we can have better lives. Let’s not do that, and continue with the simple, unresponsive to price change, unfair option.

      • Anonymous says:

        The duty could be a percentage of cost like it is for everything else, and paid at the time of import by the importer rather than by the consumer by gallons sold at the pump.

    • Anonymous says:

      Duty on alcohol is also done on volume not value… who are they hiding the price from there mr conspiracy? They still have to present an invoice with the value for clearance, even if it has no bearing on the duty… next…

  24. Anonymous says:

    No more duty on perishables and medicines.

    Paying duty again to return a product when it’s damaged, is robbery.

    Put duty(tax) on the financial firms moving billions of dollars every month(day?!?).

    Cayman isn’t a tax free country. Tax free for the rich but anyone that actually lives here knows there is more fees and permits than most countries.

    • john says:

      Actually it’s not tax free for anyone as how else can the government be funded.

      Assuming a “rich” person lives in a home they pay stamp duty when they buy it. 10% of say $2 million for a condo on 7 mile beach = $200,000.

      If a rich foreigner wants to move here permanently that’s another $100,000 for a residency permit.

      Plus taxes on cars and much more.

      • Anonymous says:

        It’s just a one time tax, so who cares. If you can afford it, it makes part of the price so whatever.

    • Anon says:

      Death and taxes, my friend. The CIG would have you believe that they have cheated death itself with their Chinavirus shutdown. You can’t reasonably expect to escape taxes too, now can you!

    • Anonymous says:

      Sure, and you will offset this with a direct income tax on your earnings, right??

    • Ms.Whittaker says:

      If you follow the protocol for warranty and returned goods you won’t have an issue. As someone who has worked in shipping/logistics/importations for more than 15 years I’ve never had a problem declaring warranty/replacement goods.
      When declaring the repaired or replaced item, you simply have to
      1) provide declaration showing initial import of goods (proving you have paid duty)
      2) provide the completed and stamped form for items taken abroad (fill this dorm BEFORE sending item away)
      Providing these documents satifies customs that the proper protocol has been followed in dealing with warranty repairs or replacements and duty is waived.

      In a case where a manufacturer or supplier is simply sending you a replacement without you shipping an item back, you only have to take the “broken or damanged” item to Customs Inspectors for them to dispose of item and again….duty is waived. But you MUST inform Customs immediately when replacement item is imported and being declared for them to issue the inspection requirement for this procedure to be done.

      Joe public may not know all the ins and outs of every Customs policy or procedure, but you can enquire with any of the senior staff in the Imports Dept and they can direct you on what to do. Simply ASK for guidance on what to do, don’t just assume there is nothing in place for these situations.

      I see no need to change this procedure.

      • Anonymous says:

        Totally correct, I had an Amazon Kindle replaced under warranty they shipped it to me provided a return prepaid shipping label, took the old item to customs and filed the return item form and no fees were applied case closed, there is already laws in place to handle a warranty replacement, the duty-free drugs is something that could be explored further, but the best option might be just a simple reduction in duty and everyone would be happy.

      • Anonymous says:

        It’s a pita to walk the goods down for inspection with original paperwork. The opportunity cost of forgoing work to run that errand often exceeds the value of the goods.

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