Hamilton accuses Customs of tardiness

Associate Editor ---
Auto & Entertainment

Friday, May 03, 2019

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LYNVALLE Hamilton, president of the Jamaica Used Car Dealers' Association (JUCDA), is labelling the Jamaica Customs Agency as “tardy” for its delay in processing vehicles with concessions.

“It's total chaos. They're having serious problems. For more than two months, we are trying to clear vehicles that have arrived in the island with concessions. Customers are now coming to the used-car dealers and accusing them of being scammers,” he told the Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine yesterday.

“And what is even worse, they (Customs) have not put out anything to advise the public of the situation,” he continued.

According to the JUCDA head, when the ASYCUDA (Automated System for Customs Data) was introduced about four years ago, there were always delays.

“But this is now of unbearable proportions. Prior to ASYCUDA's introduction, the manual system was able to clear vehicles in 24 hours,” he said.

Hamilton said a letter was sent to the CEO and Commissioner of Customs, Velma Ricketts Walker, on March 25 to apprise her of the situation. A receipt of the letter was acknowledged, but, to date, his organisation has not gotten a response.

“When you call Customs, and advise them of the situation, we are told to put the concession holder as the importer. This, to me, is a false declaration and contrary to the Customs Act. And the Jamaica Customs Agency, whose duty it is to support the Act, is supporting this... Some JUCDA members have followed the instructions and it is coming up 'invalid'. But imagine the implications with the banks and police? That means we are importing and selling vehicles, which the documents are stating we are not the owners,” he said.

This is not the first time Hamilton is at odds with the customs agency.

Last year May, the used car head lashed the then newly implemented pre-shipment inspection policy. He said it was having detelerious effect on the sector and the economy.

“Firstly, we are not against the pre-shipment inspection system, but the pitfalls that come with it are what we're concerned about... Since its implementation, several skilled jobs in Jamaica are being shifted to Japan and we're seeing a 30 per cent hike in motor vehicle costs which, ultimately, will be passed on to consumers,” said Hamilton, principal of Corporate Area dealership AutoChannel.

“We notice cars are being failed for simple things like rust in the doors, for a hub cap missing, for a fender bender... And to fix it there (in Japan) is more expensive than to fix it here (in Jamaica). So what the Government has done is to push the labour away from Jamaica, where people would get jobs here in dealing with it, and forcing us to deal with it Japan. I don't believe that is a good thing,” he continued.

Implemented on February 1, 2018, the pre-shipment inspection regime aims to provide a transparent motor vehicle importation policy that safeguards consumers. The move, according to the Government, was necessary, given reports of tampering of motor vehicle odometers to reflect lower mileages and other irregularities. Japanese company, Auto Terminal Japan Limited, has been contracted to examine all used vehicles shipped to Jamaica.

Several efforts to contact CEO and Commissioner of Customs Velma Ricketts Walker and Danville Walker, chairman of Jamaica Customs Agency board, were unsuccessful.

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