Trade volume increases
Activities at the ports unaffected by pandemic, says Jamaica CustomsWednesday, November 24, 2021
BY KELLARAY MILES
Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) has said that amid some downturns brought on by the novel coronavirus pandemic, trade volumes have increased by 126 per cent relative to the pre-pandemic era and have been positively impacting revenue streams.
According to Earl Stewart Jr, director of planning and research at the JCA, some of the areas accounting for the largest growth flow from imports in petroleum-based products, construction materials, oxygen, and food items.
“We're seeing some level of recovery relative to 2020 wherein the volume of trade has gone up by 1.815 billion kg or 66 per cent to 4.568 billion kg in 2021,” he said during a Jamaica Observer Business Forum held last week at the company's Beechwood Avenue headquarters in St Andrew.
In response to an auditor general report last week pointing to some breaches in operations at the JCA which, the report said, had led to over $600 million in uncollected revenues over periods covering 2016-2021, the agency noted that these breaches took place a few years ago and prior to the implementation of its electronic warehouse monitoring system (ASYCUDA), thereby suggesting that current revenue streams remain unaffected. It however indicated that diligent efforts were being made to recover the sums owed, especially as the agency moves to improve operations and revenue collection.
Following a fall-off in revenues last year, largely due to pandemic-related challenges, the State agency having responsibility for border protection and trade facilitation activities and which prides itself on being one of the largest revenue contributors for government, said that up to the start of this year these figures have remained on a positive trajectory and were now trending above assigned targets.
“At the end of 2020 an overall 102 per cent of the assigned revenue target was achieved, supported by an outturn of $113.3 billion against a targeted collection of $110.9 billion. What we have forecasted for this fiscal year is that we should come in above 90 per cent of our target for this year, and that's being conservative, so we are very optimistic. Year on year growth in revenue for the period April to September stood at 33 per cent or $30 billion,” Stewart said.
He said that tax revenues, particularly earnings, came from import duties, and general consumption tax (GCT) formed the bulk of revenues coupled with increased trade volumes accompanied by increases in values owing to foreign exchange depreciations. Top revenue contributions came from imports in petroleum products, motor vehicles, alcoholic beverages and cigarettes.
In a round-up of the data, Stewart said that results for the April-September period show the value of petroleum products moving from $1.8 billion to $2 billion and $16.3 billion to $21.1 billion in revenue contributions when compared year on year. The value of motor vehicles increased from $24.3 billion to $29.6 billion as revenues climbed to $16.5 billion up from $13.6 billion.
Cigarettes moved from $270 million in value to $371 million, contributing revenue outturns of $3.9 billion up from $3.2 billion for the same period last year. The value of alcoholic beverages, which Stewart Jr said had registered the largest jump over the comparative period, moved from $529 million to $1.6 billion complemented by increased revenues which grew from $768 million to $2.2 billion.
“Despite supply chain disruptions, what we have seen within the JCA is that the volume of trade continues to increase even though we are still in a pandemic, and that is very good because that signals recovery. As an agency we therefore have to ensure that all our resources are properly deployed to meet all the needs out there and as we work to address them accordingly. We will remain resolute and strong as we continue to service our local and international trade partners,” added Velma Ricketts Walker, commissioner and chief executive officer of the JCA.