FORENSIC SCIENTIST Mark Arthur DaCosta Sargeant lied under oath during the drug trial of businessman Abraham Moses, customs clerk John Jean-Marie and customs officer Edward Lavine five years ago. Source: Nation News
BU has highlighted this case of last year and we hope that readers will connect the dots when the dust settles. Edward Lavine was involved in this very high profile court case and was released eventually on a technicality. Our focus on this article is not the judicial system but on the customs officer. Mr. Lavine before his arrest had an attendance record at the Port Authority where he was posted which would have sent shivers down the spine of the General Secretary of the BWU and NUPW. He was never at work and a check with “people” usually confirmed that he was out of the island. The bottom line is that he would go MIA for days. The fact that he was eventually arrested in a highly publicized drug case came as no surprise to many. Barbados is a small place and BU refuses to believe that he is the single bad apple in the barrel. If Barbadians want to secure a wholesome environment for their children to exist through the elimination of the scourge of drugs in the society, the popular practice of “see no evil hear no evil” must be discontinue.
UNDER-INVOICING of goods entering the Bridgetown Port is to come under very close scrutiny by authorities. Acting Comptroller of Customs Joseph Best told the DAILY NATION yesterday that a unit would be set up within the department shortly to nip under-invoicing in the bud and prevent hundreds of thousands of dollars being lost annually.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance, Clyde Mascoll, also spoke to the issue of under-invoicing during his feature address at the official opening of the 41st General Assembly of the Inter-American Centre of Tax Administrations at Hilton Barbados yesterday. He said globalisation, despite its potential to increase the wealth of nations, opened the global market to a wider spectrum of taxpayers who eluded national tax systems. Mascoll cited under-invoicing as one such problem affecting Barbados.
Source: Nation News
BU has no doubt that what the gentlemen is reported to have said is true. However we feel that their resources maybe better spent to improve internal controls. We wonder if the setting up of the Unit within the Customs Department to investigate the practice of under-invoicing is not a case of misplaced priorities. Although there is the widely held public perception that Customs Brokers and businessmen alike all wait until their “man is on duty”, at BU we wonder if Mascoll as Minister of Finance, and the de facto number two government minister, should not target resources to other much needed areas at the Customs and Excise Department. One such area is the identification of Custom Officers who allow contraband into our country, and also to implement systems to improve the efficient processing documentation at the ports of entry to facilitate the timely delivery of goods to small and medium size businesses especially. It is no secret that the delay in processing goods through the Port results in higher port charges which will have the effect of higher prices to the consumer.
The preamble is to highlight one business sector in Barbados which has been decimated with the help of the Customs department. At BU we have no doubt that some recondition car dealers have manipulated the system. But we feel that it is no excuse for the Customs Department to have adopted a “Peter pay for Paul” approach by delaying the process under which cars are imported by this group to be processed. We all remember the Prime Minister having to get involved in a matter where the Customs deliberately frustrated the ruling of a Magistrate in the case regarding Shazar Distributors. The public did not see Customs held accountable for this action. The Customs department along with new car dealers and Minister Eastmond’s ministry have all conspired to bring this once thriving, predominantly black business sector to a halt. The Customs department should use its resources to ensure that import documents are speedily processed which will protect jobs and help to reduce the inflationary effect on our economy, they embark instead on focusing on under invoicing.
Why are they focusing on under invoicing? Minister Mascoll needs to meet his revenue target!
I agree, they should be trying to encourage efficient trade to help the economy and find and root out the many bad eggs who are not collecting what is due the government / or turn a blind eye (as they are collecting themselves). To go after importers who are also marking down to help not pay as much taxes (so the end user also benefits) is a money grabbing exercise that is half thought out. Why not go after the bandits, reduce taxes on imports and put in heavy fines for persons who try to beat down the prices. It might bring the cost down for all of us and they might still collect the same taxes or even more.