CBC strained under record-breaking imports

| 13/07/2020 | 58 Comments
Cayman News Service
Customs and Border Control officer

(CNS): As online shoppers and small businesses tear their hair out over delays in the clearance of packages passing through local courier companies, customs officials said the delays are due to the record-breaking level of imports last month as a result of the closed borders. Customs and Border Control said they received 18,000 individual imports in June, which was 5,000 more than in May, placing “a great strain on CBC resources” as well as the couriers and agents bringing in the goods.

Over the last few weeks CNS has been receiving stories from angry and frustrated readers about delays in the arrival of packages since Cayman’s borders and shops closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some importers claim they have waited over two months for packages despite paying ‘next day’ or express delivery premiums.

As a result we asked the CBC about the reports we were getting from the public regarding the clearance issues, which appear to be caused by a combination of problems, including a shortage of staff and ailing computer systems.

The CBC did not respond directly to any of our questions. Instead, a press release was issued stating that an increase in imports as well as problems relating to importers not providing the necessary paperwork and poor invoicing were fuelling the delays.

Approximately 40% of imports to the Cayman Islands arrive with the incorrect invoice, contributing to further delays in accessing goods, officials stated in the release. But the agency said it has now deployed additional officers to manage the increase.

CBC Deputy Director Kevin Walton said that the increase of imports was “directly linked to travel restrictions, so the normal baggage imports by passengers are now being routed through couriers and other consolidated cargo imports”.

As the borders remain closed, leading to a rising trend in shopping online and importing goods, it appears that July is going to be just as busy. Officials said that they had already received almost 5,000 individual imports in the first week of July.

In addition to the fact that people cannot travel overseas to shop, the increase in imports is also likely being fuelled by the hundreds of thousands of dollars paid out over the last few weeks from pension funds under the new emergency COVID-19 provision in the law.

While this may not be good news for local retailers, it is very good news for the public purse. As the country waits for Finance Minister Roy McTaggart to release a revised budget for the 2020/21 period, he is already warning of a potential shortfall in government revenue of some 25% due to the shutdown of tourism. This warning comes at a time when public spending has increased as government tries to prop up local business and support those who have their jobs frozen or lost them altogether.

The overseas shopping spree may help boost government earnings slightly. But while the number of individual imports has increased, the total value of imports has not yet been released. Although much of this would have been lost in the personal allowance of people returning from overseas trips, it is unlikely to make a significant difference to the revenue hole government is expecting.

Meanwhile, customs is reminding the general public of the importance of completing and submitting an Appointment of Agent Authorisation form when using courier or broker services. Importers must also provide all necessary documents to the agent, as this is their responsibility.

The completed form should be signed, dated and accompanied by a valid, legible government-issued identification, such as a passport or driver’s licence, with colour copies preferred. The appointed agent should have the completed form at least 48 hours prior to the arrival of goods and customers are urged to submit the appropriate invoice in order to expedite the clearing of their goods.

To avoid delays customers should provide customs with sales invoices and suppliers commercial invoices with the required proof of payment. Courier system generated commercial or hand written invoices are not acceptable and the misrepresentation or omission of the value of goods can further delay the process.

For more information call the CBC at 949-4579 or visit the CBC website.


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Category: Government Administration, Local News, Politics

Comments (58)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Every job is hard for an incompetent, uneducated, and unmotivated individual. More so when you are managed by the same. The problem here is that they are hired because they are Caymanian and not because they are competent, educated, trained, trainable, or motivated. I would say start trading them out for better educated Caymanians but the education system here makes that moot. So just pay the big money for poor performance and just be glad they still let you have your stuff. It could be worse.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Totally agree here. All about incompetence, unprofessional and waste of time. Always has from day one and currently full speed ahead with rejects at the helm and rejects on the front line.

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  2. Cheese Face says:

    The hold ups are Cayman Customs being useless and brain dead. A package arrives for me by FedEx, they want me to fill in an agent appointment form because its in my name. Despite already having one from my company, they refuse to release the package.

    You are useless customs, plane and simple, utterly useless.

    But then so are FedEx, DHL etc. Don’t even get me started on UPS, comical at best.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Seeing how covid has dried up many other revenue streams, you would think that government would be clearing packages at record speed to get some money from Import duties.

    Customs is just another example of the slackness that is the civil service. Government is a cesspit of obese, unambitious slackers!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed. I see an opportunity to hire more Caymanians. The intention would be to process more freight, faster, thus building confidence for busiensses and people to order more. The result would be more revenue for CIG. If people can’t come to the island, but containers and parcels can, make it as easy and efficient as possible.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    I’m so sick of incompetence, red-tape, poor attitudes, poor customer service, downright laziness and WASTE throughout the entire Civil Service, but CBC is, and has long, long been, a prime example of all of this. Then their favourite response – blame importers, blame computer systems and staff shortages! Bullshit!!

    I noticed the delays from late 2019 but acknowledged that my imports were caught in the Christmas rush because I didn’t ship until mid-November. Then in early March, well before the lock-down, for almost two weeks before I received my imports in-hand, my broker was telling me “it’s on the island but CBC hasn’t cleared it yet”. So this problem is not solely related to the corona lock-down.

    Just in the last year or two CBC supposedly “upgraded” their computer system and introduced new, “more efficient” processing procedures. What? Did they by a cheap, obsolete system like Immigration Dept. did with APIS? Knowing the CS, probably so, or perhaps most of their front-line staff may not fully understand how to use it. But in general, if they would stop tacking on illegal and “padding fees” to each import that would save even calculation time on invoices and other unnecessary red-tape perhaps processing times could be removed. I doubt they’re short of staff too, just short of staff who are motivated!!

    But this is the “efficiency” that DG Franz Manderson has promised, yet I have not experienced a lick of improvement in CS service delivery since he’s been in his post, except seeing machines in some lobbies to enter your opinion on the service received. By now they should have collected enough “data” from those machines to improve processes because I’m sure the comments have not all been “smiles”! In my opinion, he’s of the same mold of many who report to him and lower down the chain – described in my first paragraph!

    I’ve received confusing and contradictory electronic response from DCI, since March on my Annual Return submission; now with almost full re-opening I still can’t get a live response. Received my third and final warning, again electronically (“no-reply”), from Trade & Business that my licence is suspended. All during the lock-down!! I am sure the Cabinet Minister responsible publicly announced a temporary reprieve on suspensions!! Now that there is partial re-opening, I’ve been too ill for the past 2 months to get to them. I call, no live answers!

    And Franz Manderson thinks the CS is ready to work partially from home as a long-term or permanent measure??!! God help us!!

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Lots of people are out of work. Hire more staff…

    If there wasn’t such extreme price gouging people wouldn’t have to order online. From someone who wants to shop local… it’s hard when the prices are 200% and in kyd

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    • Anonymous says:

      I tried hard to buy a computer locally, and was prepared to pay the higher price. What I wanted was not in stock. I was advised to go to the apple store and give them the specs and they would order it for me. I mean what is the point? I was also told that due to supplier chain disruption they had no idea when it would arrive! Naturally I imported it myself It arrived in days and despite it taking longer to process here than it did to arrive, I was able to get what I wanted. Customs really has to do better. With no tourists arriving and the airport closed, what are they doing with all the staff that would normally be there?

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    • Anonymous says:

      I wish we could charge less on island at my store but duties and rent cause enormous mark ups.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    So why not have the officers that would normally be at the airport go on shift work (day shift/night shift) to work on clearing items at CBC courier section? The second shift may be helpful to some parents with younger children at home due to school closure and offset childcare issues. Just a thought!

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    • Anonymous says:

      don’t matter how many they use. it is no different when covid didnt play into it. remember hours of sitting and waiting at customs to clear.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    The levels or bureaucracy are mind-blowing but it also depends on who serves you too. You can speak to 3 different people and get 3 different answers. Some consistency would be good. And I don’t mean consistently bad!

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Next month the lines will be at NAU when all the pension money run out!

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Still no mail from the USA.

    Hope CI Postal Service could workout a solution

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    • Anonymous says:

      US post told me they are not sending mail to Cayman till the airports are fully open. Is that Sept. or Dec. IDK…..but, that is what I’ve been told up here…

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    • Anonymous says:

      You can still fedex letters here if its an emergency. $$$ for sure, but can be helpful.

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  10. Jotnar says:

    Perhaps if they took a risk based approach to clearing packages – like they did at the airport, with random testing and checking suspicious items – they could reduce the delays instead of insisting on 100% inspect of everything. Ditto the paperwork – half the delays are with the level of paperwork required which having demanded it they then wish to double check, when you have to question why it was required in the first place. If I buy my daughter a Barbie doll on Amazon why do you need to see an original invoice to work out if the declared value looks reasonabl, let alone have to see my drivers licence?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Risk based approach? God forbid a few grams of weed gets by, what a devastating risk that would be to take.. We should just allow all the tobacco imported in without hassle and divert the resources to finding weed packages.

      I’m being sarcastic, don’t tell them that there’s a huge warehouse on island being used to grow top quality herb. Absolutely hilarious they’ve been going all these years.. wonder why they’ve not been raided by CBC yet, but Doctor’s Express with legalized oil has? They must ga some sort of connections paid off by the lucrative business.

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      • Anonymous says:

        And why is the population of Cayman finally having access to quality herb, without the help of the government, a problem? Have you noticed any changes in society that we should blame and use to crack down? Or has everything continued as normal…you tell me.

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        • Anonymous says:

          The problem is weed has been as available for purchase like KFC since the colonel arrived on these shores.

          Tobacco laced with nicotine is ok but we ruin lives over a medical plant.. That’s the problem.

          Don’t like alcohol? Don’t drink. Prohibiting that made al capone a billionaire a century ago – do you not learn?

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      • Anonymous says:

        Chh brudda stfu na stop baiting up the scene

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    • Anonymous says:

      The invoices they need vary from agent to agent too. I can clear the same thing and it will all be different prices and different paperwork needed. Insanity.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    civil service incompetence is never ending

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  12. Anonymous says:

    UPS told me that Customs is only working half days. CNS, do you know if this is true?

    CNS: We have submitted a number of questions to CBC and the ministry, including about how staff are being deployed, but they have not yet responded. We will post a story as soon as they do.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    I have had a container sitting now for two weeks that has not been cleared by CBC and they have all the proper documents.

    Why don’t they reallocate other CIG resources that are not busy to help CBC. I am sure they could use administration support.

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    • Anonymous says:

      And costing you a fortune while waiting on it. They have no respect for businesses on island over there. Fingers crossed they don’t want to do a random check of the contents or else you’ll be waiting another week and the agents will show up 20 minutes late even though you have to hire people to move the contents out and back in for them.

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  14. Hole in one says:

    Par for the Civil Service golf course, i.e. 25 for one hole.

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  15. GR says:

    And they conveniently don’t mention their system upgrade implementation issues?

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    • Anonymous says:

      When they “upgraded” last year I noticed my clearance times stretched from a few days to up to 4 weeks. Blaming coronavirus is a lame excuse for last years incompetence.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Exactly, they were smart to make the change to moving containers at night and also allowing them to be delivered directly to a site then inspected. Theses were great ideas. What happened?

  16. t says:

    This has been going on for long before Covid. I’m sure the travel restrictions have placed a bigger burden on this department, but there a deeper problems that seem to have been introduced sometime in the past year.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    With so many Caymanians looking for a job, how come they are understaffed? Same with DVDL,…etc.

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    • Anonymous says:

      They are not understaffed. They have a bitch system implementation and the most charitable way I can say this is they do not work “efficiently”

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    • Anonymous says:

      They’re not understaffed, just under motivated and wallowing in a sea of red tape created by themselves. If you’re going to look impo’ent then bees impotent!

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    • Anonymous says:

      CBC has made flying into Cayman with luggage full much easier. Flying thru Owen Roberts is great – but, they’re making up all those missed duties $ by spending more time on shipped packages. I’ve tried to view it as a trade off.

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  18. Anonymous says:

    People getting ready for SHTF in September exploding in November.

    Enjoy the last normal you have while you can.

    You may not know your Governor now, but you will know him soon.

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  19. Anonymous says:

    More like record breaking laziness. File the paperwork then it gets suspended for one thing, correct it, then it is suspended for another thing. Get a release, go and pay then they tell you to come back later. Go back later then they tell you to go home and print all the invoices. Explain that they already have them, but they say takes to long to print. Backwards and forwards for ten days to get a couple of boxes and biy that woman in charge is as miserable as can be. Strange thing is, that it is the opinion of many!

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  20. Anonymous says:

    We have a horribly complicated, antiquated system for processing overseas purchases.

    #5,982 of what CIG can’t get right.

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  21. Anonymous says:

    Dah!
    This should have been anticipated, and this should have been prepared for.

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  22. Anonymous says:

    The truth is always somewhere in the middle.

    Yes, many importers (particularly a three-letter-word starting with D) are extremely poor and do not provide the correct information to either customs or customers.

    But, Customs does have some foolish and backwards rules. For example, they refuse to process items if there is free shipping, or if you get a freebie, or a 30% off voucher. They can’t wrap their minds around that.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Hence why I declared the value of my free replacement phone screen protector to be the US$7.99 shipping and handling I was charged to get it to the freight-forwarder in Miami. Add CI$12.95 for the freight-forwarder, add those two up, add 22% of those two, add package taxes of CI$3.00 = almost CI$27.00 for a free item. Could have just gone to Cayman Mac Store and bought another…can’t even use a warranty here…

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  23. Anonymous says:

    It is a disgusting state of affairs created by a bureaucracy gone mad. It could all be so simple and easy, with flat duty rates payable with no fuss or bother. Fraudsters could be arrested an prosecuted and the honest majority should be getting their goods on the same day, with government getting all revenue due. Instead the civil service are locked in a loop of incompetence, disappearing up its own backside, and sucking the rest of Cayman in with it.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Email Chuckie with any issues you have

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      • Anonymous says:

        Why? To tell him the system itself is not fit for purpose? That it is over complicated and bureaucratic? That statistics are not so important as to warrant an unworkable system? He is not in control of this stuff. Responsibility is higher up the civil service and political ladder.

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  24. Anonymous says:

    This is excuse is pathetic. The delays started in late 2019.

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  25. Anonymous says:

    Cayman stands to be among the few places on Earth that will enjoy some semblance of a V-shaped recovery, even if restricted to local consumers. There are opportunities in that.

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  26. Anonymous says:

    COVID revenge-buying is a phenomenon driven by boredom and pleasure-seeking and a byproduct of high disposable incomes. This should be good news for CIG duty receivables, and the retail stores that have reopened.

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  27. Anonymous says:

    I’m actually sick of this lack of development here. As a Caymanian, I can understand the intricacies and the difficulties with maintaining a border but why does it feel like we are doing the same thing and having the same issues over and over and over.

    Why is it that we here all this talk about development but the only thing I see is hotel and condos. Government wouldn’t even promote the Financial Services industry in schools, promote Audit and Assurance, promote Compliance (which I think they are doing actually). Promote these things and try to become a leader in the field. Parts of Canada are known for AI development. They brought in innovators and leaders into that part of their country in order to represent themselves as leaders in that field.

    Where is the Cayman Pride? One side blaming expats, One side blaming the caymanian mentality. Instead of taking offense, work on yourself, have some pride and take care about what you do,strive to improve and perhaps on a small island in middle of the sea, that relies on imports, our CBC wont grind to a halt every time a small increase in imports or incorrect invoice information is used. Leaders of these sectors of the government need to take some damn pride in the systems they are responsible for. Every year is the same thing and no one cares to improve.

    Sick of feeling like I live in the stone-age.

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    • Anonymous says:

      11:36. I can understand your comments about living in the stone age. I guess you work in the private sector.

      Meanwhile I just renewed my car registration and trade and business license while sitting on the beach on my well deserved vacation.

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  28. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps all the postal workers who used to handle international mail and are now doing nothing can help out?

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