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Importers clear 35 vehicles off the block

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior Staff Reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, December 18, 2013    

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THE Jamaica Customs Agency (formerly the Customs Department) has cleared 35 of the 207 vehicles destined for the auction block on December 20.

In a response to queries from Auto yesterday, Dania Beckford, Director of Public Relations and Information in the ministry, confirmed that the vehicles were cleared by the importers, between November 20, when the advertisements began in the press, and last week Friday, December 6.

According to the director, the agency collected $6.8 million in outstanding duties and other charges, from the clearance of the 35 vehicles.

Detailed information on additional clearances since then was not available up to press time. However, the customs agency said that based on the number of importer queries, it is estimated that more vehicles will be cleared by next Friday's auction.

According to the agency, all of its auctions follow established guidelines and procedures, in order to ensure transparency and adherence to the law.

Section 88 of the Customs Act highlights conditions under which items are eligible to be auctioned. Goods deposited in the Queen's Warehouse after 14 days of off-loading will be auctioned after four months of storage. The exceptions are those items under investigation, or pending court procedures.

Motor vehicles advertised in the press, however, may not be available for sale on the day of the auction, as the importers have the right to clear their vehicles up to the day before the auction.

A reserved price must be assessed on all the vehicles to be auctioned. This represents the lowest price at which they may be sold to recover the duties and other taxes and charges.

In terms of payments, purchases are made by manager's cheque, but delivery is not made until the banks have cleared the cheque, which should be made payable to the Collector of Customs. Successful bidders unable to make full payment on the day of the sale are allowed to deposit at least 10 per cent of their bids, with the balance to be paid within one week. The 10 per cent deposit is non-refundable.

In all cases where the vehicles are sold, the proceeds must first be applied to: Customs Duty, General Consumption Tax and other relevant taxes; removal and sale expenses; and any rent and charges due to Government for freight, port storage and other charges. The remainder goes to the owner of the vehicle, on application, within two years of the sale. But before the vehicles are released, Customs must first be satisfied that all due charges have been paid.

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