Gov’t pledges increased duty-free allowances, unemployment insurance
The Government has promised to increase by 50 per cent, the duty-free threshold for imported goods at the ports and personal items taken in at the airport during travel, by next year.
The proposal is to move the duty-free threshold for imported goods from US$50 to US$100 and personal items from US$500 to US$1,000.
Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke made the declaration as he addressed the 80th staging of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) annual conference at the National Arena on Sunday.
He told excited party supporters that the Government is seeking to modernise the customs structure and make it a less bureaucratic process through the passage of the relevant law.
“The port and customs is a nexus for every service, every product produced, and as a result, we will begin debate on a thousand-page Customs Bill to repeat and replace the old Bill from 1945. And what that means, we will have a modern and efficient customs. And when that Bill is passed, I say to you, we’re going to reduce the bureaucracy at the airports, reduce the bureaucracy at our ports. We’re going to take a look at the duty-free threshold,” he said to loud cheers from the packed arena.
Currently, according to the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA), goods with a free onboard value of US$50 imported through a courier agency will attract the applicable customs charges.
It also notes that arriving passengers, 18 years and older, have a duty-free allowance of US$500 for personal and household goods.
Customs advises that personal items in excess of the US$500 may be subject to customs charge which will be calculated on the excess value.
Dr Clarke said this customs process is particularly tedious for arriving passengers who have had to endure extra scrutiny.
“When you come to the airport, everybody ah bother you, what you buy abroad, you buy this and you buy that, ah bother you, ah stop you and make a line long…we are going to address the threshold. When you enter the airport, it was US$500, we’re going to move it come April to US$1,000,” he said.
The finance minister gave the news as he reeled off the economic achievements of the JLP-led Government over the past eight years, while highlighting the plans the Administration had in store for the future.
Among the upcoming plans, he said, is an unemployment insurance scheme to be introduced in collaboration with Minister of Labour and Social Security Pearnel Charles Jr.
“You lose your job, you don’t fall down on your face, you can get back up because the Government is supporting you on a temporary basis with income – that is a Government that cares,” he said.
In addition, Dr Clarke said that working with Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Desmond McKenzie, an organisational structure will be put in place for sanitation workers “and before the end of the year, we’re gonna have some kind of fix,” he said.
“So Labourites, you can be proud of the achievements of the Jamaica Labour Party. We are the party for today and we are the party for tomorrow. I don’t talk about the third term, I talk about the next term. We going for the next term and you can tell people, tell you neighbour that we have the achievements, tell them that we have the vision, and tell them that we have the plans,” he said to more cheers.