CCLEC SIGNS TREATY TO ESTABLISH THE CARIBBEAN CUSTOMS ORGANISATION (CCO)

The CCLEC 41st Conference was held in Havana, Cuba on May 22-24, 2019 under the theme

The Pathway to Success: Strength through Unity’. This event was marked by the historical signing of the treaty which will establish the Caribbean Customs Organization (CCO).

The signing ceremony was attended by high level government officials including, on behalf of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Mr Menno Snel, Minister for Finance of Taxation and Customs of the Netherlands, Mrs Xiomara Ruiz-Maduro, Minister of Finance, Economic Affairs and Culture of Aruba, Mr Kenneth Gijsbertha, Minister of Finance of Curacao, and Mr Cornelius de Weever, Minister of Justice of Sint Maarten, who all signed for their respective countries. Ambassador to Cuba, Mr Andrew Brent, signed on behalf of the Bahamas, and Mr Antony Stokes, UK’s Ambassador to Cuba, signed on behalf of Anguilla, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Representatives from Customs, Mr Raju Boddu, Comptroller of Customs for Antigua, Mr Nelson E. Cordovés Reyes, Head of Customs for Cuba, Mr Cesar Zorrilla, Manager of the Technical Deliberative Department of the General Customs Directorate for the Dominican Republic, and Mr Fritz Alcindor, Deputy Director General of Haiti signed on behalf of their respective governments.

After three decades of operating under an MOU, members of the Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council (CCLEC) agreed that it was of paramount importance, given the opportunities and challenges presented by technological advancements, to formalize the legal basis for sharing information. The MOU to establish the CCLEC was signed in 1989, an MOU which, although not legally binding, served the organization in meeting its objectives to improve the overall professionalism of its members through cooperation, sharing of best practices, human resource development, modernization, automation, harmonization of processes and procedures and information/intelligence sharing.  However, global security challenges, the need for automatic sharing of information and the advent of several new trade arrangements means that the CCLEC’s role will become more complex. To this end, the need for a more robust legally binding mechanism to improve information and intelligence exchange was necessary.

17th WCO IT Conference & Exhibition, Lima, Peru

Mr Raju Boddu, Comptroller of Antigua& Barbuda Customs and Chair of CCLEC Finance Committee, represented CCLEC at the 17th WCO IT Conference & Exhibition which was held in Lima, Peru. Delegates from seventy five countries attended the event which took place from June 6-8, 2018.

Mr Boddu presented on the topic “Connecting dots in Maritime Environment”, with particular reference to Trade Facilitation, Border Security and Revenue collection which are the main functions of the customs administrations.

He described the different actors and entities in the Maritime Environment, the enormity of growing marine traffic and seaborne trade and outlined the challenges in connecting the dots; the challenges being (1) Varied legislative arrangements (2) differing National priorities in relation to border security (3) non-cooperative border agencies(4) Infrastructure inadequacies (5) Capacity and competence issues (6) Different technologies and their inter-inoperability and (7) Resource constraints

He highlighted the security challenges in the Caribbean context and the interventions of CCLEC in implementing the Regional Clearance System (RCS) for small vessels and CARICOM IMPACS Advanced Cargo Information System (ACIS).

“In the context of the complex Customs ecosystem, the actual implementation of profiling, targeting and enforcement is a herculean task if one has to depend on traditional way of managing borders” he said.

Antigua Gov’t examining legislation allowing for controlled cultivation of marijuana

ST JOHN’S, Antigua (CMC) — The Antigua and Barbuda government says it hopes to be able to pass legislation that would allow for marijuana to be grown under control conditions or with licences and to be processed like any pharmaceutical in a laboratory that adheres to high standards.

A statement issued after the Cabinet meeting, said that the newly-elected government of Prime Minister Gaston Browne had invited several officials and experts to participate in the deliberations “in order to achieve the most in decision-making”.

The statement noted that a four-person group, including three Canadian, with an interest in producing medical cannabis, “came to Cabinet in order to advise on the kinds of steps required by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda in order to make possible the growing, harvesting, processing and sale of medical cannabis in its many forms”.

The statement said that the government hopes to be able to pass the laws that would allow cannabis to be grown under control conditions and sold in a domestic market, having been transformed into a variety of medicinal products.

“The Cabinet agreed that Canada’s laws are the best fit to be a model, although Britain, Germany, Switzerland and Brazil are pursuing the same path for growers of the cannabis plants.

“The Cabinet learned that the laws of Jamaica have been adapted to achieve similar ends, but the process has proven to be very unwieldy for producers seeking licenses. Canada, the second largest state in geographic size on the planet, has federal laws that make the growing, harvesting and processing of medical cannabis uniform throughout its many Provinces,” the statement noted.

Grand Cayman Customs launches new IT System

As announced previously, today (Wednesday, 1 November 2017) the Customs Department launched Phase 1 of its project to transition from its legacy IT Platforms to its enhanced IT Platforms.

Collector of Customs Charles Clifford said, “The transition will ultimately see the phasing out of the Customs Department’s legacy IT Platforms in favor of enhanced IT Platforms which are designed to ultimately deliver effective trade facilitation and exceptional customer service while maintaining effective border control protocols.”

Deputy Collector of Customs Kevin Walton, who has responsibility for the Customs Department’s Revenue Collection Portfolio, said, “Because this is a transition, those traders who may not be ready to use the new IT Platform which is being launched in Phase 1 today will have available to them our legacy IT Platforms which will remain live and available in order to facilitate a smooth transition within a reasonable period of time before the old systems are taken offline at the end of this year”

Collector Clifford advised that customers must come in to register on the new system in order to take advantage of it advances. Registration is necessary for compliance purposes. However, it is a one time registration and once you are registered on the new system you will be able to enter your declaration online from the comfort of your home or office. You will then receive an email from the Customs Department confirming receipt and advising that your declaration will be processed within 2 hours. Once your declaration is processed, you will receive a further email advising that your goods have been released and that you should come in to pay the duties and collect your goods or alternatively that your goods have been selected for inspection and you must come in to witness the inspection.

Hurricane Irma

  Hurricane Irma will go down in history as one of the fiercest in the region and no doubt it will be etched on the minds of those who experienced it for many years to come. The structural impact will not be known for some time now but the impact on lives will be unquantifiable…

American National Arrested for firearms and ammunition

The Customs Department has announced that on 7th July 2017 Cayman Brac Customs Officers arrested a 52-year-old male American national for several firearm offences.

During the inspection of a shipping container a large quantity of ammunition was recovered amongst personal belongings.  Cayman Brac Customs Officers along with officers from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service conducted a search of his residence where two unlicensed firearms were recovered.

Neither the ammunition nor the firearms were declared to Customs and they did not accompany a firearms import permit.

Acting Collector of Customs Jeff Jackson said “I wish to sincerely thank Cayman Brac Customs and the RCIPS for their collaborative approach to this detection and arrest. This is consistent with Collector Clifford’s and Commissioner Byrne’s policy to promote and facilitate joint operations by our two agencies”

Venezuela Joins Haiti And US As Region’s Major Illegal Guns Supplier

Economic crises in Venezuela may propel that country to the position of one of the Caribbean’s largest supplier of illegal guns and ammunition, along with Haiti and the United States of America, says Anthony Clayton, professor of Caribbean sustainable development at the Univer-sity of the West Indies.

“It is not just the (illegal gun) trade with Haiti or the import of weapons from the United States. There is going to be a third major source of supply into the Caribbean region and that is Venezuela,” Clayton told The Gleaner yesterday.

Clayton said that Venezuela has more guns per person than any country in the Western Hemisphere, a deliberate move by former President Hugo Ch·vez.

Now that the economy is suffering immensely, those arms are being sold rapidly to facilitate basic survival.

“The problem we are facing is, because with Venezuela’s economic collapse, there is now evidence of weapons flooding out of Venezuela, initially into Trinidad, but which will come percolating through the Caribbean. Venezuela has got more guns per person than almost any other country in the (western) hemisphere, including the United States.”

“This is partly due to former President Ch·vez’s policy of arming the militias. Now, with the economy collapsing, a lot of them are selling their weapons and they are selling them for groceries, pharmaceuticals and basic survival items,” Clayton said.

CCLEC 39th Conference held in Miami

Twenty-six (26) delegates across regional and metropolitan Customs Administrations attended the 39th CCLEC Conference which was held at the Sheraton Miami Airport Hotel and Executive Meeting Center, from the 23rd – 25th May, 2017. The theme “Digital partnerships in a connected world” was underlined by two distinguished speakers, Mr. SergioMujica Montes, Deputy Secretary General, World Customs Organization (WCO) and Mr. Ian C. Saunders, Assistant Commissioner, United States Customs & Border Protection (US-CBP).

Among the participants were the Caribbean Postal Union (CPU), CARICOM Implementing Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), Regional Security System (RSS), Inter American Development Bank (IDB), SOGET, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Universal Postal Union (UPU) and the WCO.

The conference witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Caribbean Postal Union and CCLEC, the objective of the MOU being to foster greater cooperation between both entities, particularly in the area of information sharing.

A number of presentations were made on the reform and modernization of CCLEC operations, including moving the organization for one based on an MOU, to being treaty based. Reports were received on the activities undertaken by the CCLEC Secretariat and the CCLEC/WCO Joint Intelligence Office in addition to presentations related to the theme, trade facilitation and border security.