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Customs should be more business friendly – PM

Customs should be more business friendly – PM

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The Customs and Excise Department has been called upon to be more business friendly.

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr Ralph Gonsalves was responding to a question posed at a press briefing on Monday, when he revealed that a study had been done which found that the department {{more}}is deficient in business friendliness.

“First of all, what I’m about to say is not meant to hang the leadership of the Customs out to dry, because I’m not doing that, but an analysis had been done and the Customs was found to be not nearly as business friendly as it should be,” he said.

Giving several examples, the Prime Minister highlighted areas where the Customs Department has been criticized by their customers.

Noting that there are some persons who seek to deceive the department, the Prime Minister also admitted that there are innocent persons who are sometimes subjected to the consequences.

“There is a marked difference today than 10 years ago in the way trading takes place. People go on sites, there’s a closing down sale, they buy everything, and they get them at real knock-down prices. The invoice comes; maybe one third of the goods the person purchases is of absolutely no use to them, but the 2/3 they get them at such low prices, they decide that this is a deal, they will take it. They get a bona fide invoice, they send it. It comes. The customs, in several cases – the reports have come to me – don’t want to give the importer the benefit of the deal that they use some other basis on which to do it. That is a matter which requires serious attention,” he said.

In addition, Gonsalves pointed out that a discussion is to be held sometime in January between the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Customs department to address these issues.

“We have a lot of good customs officers out there. The information technology system is a superior one which they have. They are now, by and large, in excellent accommodation; there are still one or two challenges here and there and I would like to see in this New Year that we have [fewer] complaints from right-thinking persons in relation to the lack of business friendliness,” the Prime Minister said.(BK)

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