ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The business community is being warned to desist from paying “extra cash” to customs officers other than the prescribed government fees when collecting goods at the port.
The appeal comes for Comptroller of Customs Raju Boddu, who is seeking the public’s corporation with the new customs regulations.
“I appeal to the general public when the system comes in, they should really follow the system prescribed by customs and desist from paying cash to custom officers,” he said.
The change announced by Finance Minister Harold Lovell on Friday will see the government collecting fees from the private sector for checking containers, instead of the money going directly to the customs officers.
Once the money is paid to the government, it will then be processed through the Treasury Department before being sent to the Customs Department.
The move, which takes effect on February 1, was introduced because of irregularities on the part the importers and customs officers.
The customs comptroller said it was also introduced following mounting complaints from both sides.
He further explained that Antigua & Barbuda is the only country that does not have a standardised payment system for containers during clearance.
He said importers should have been required to pay on the prescribed rates of overtime, meal allowance and transport allowance, which would have prevented irregularities in the system.
Finance and Economy Minister Harold Lovell said in Parliament, “the rules and regulations were put in place in keeping with international best practices.”