Sinckler says no duty free cars imported in parts

There are no cars being imported in parts in this country free of duty.

Member of Parliament for St. Michael North West and Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Christopher Sinckler, made this clear while contributing to the debate on the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill in the House of Assembly yesterday evening.

His comments came in response to remarks made by the Leader of the Opposition, Mia Mottley last week during the initial debate on the Bill, as he contended that there was no corrupt activity occurring at the Bridgetown Port. Sinckler made the point as he told the House that the only way that an importer can have an item drawn from Customs free of duty, if is an application is made to the Ministry of Finance for a waiver of the duty. With that in mind, the Finance Minister has stated emphatically that no such waivers have been granted by his Ministry.

“It has to be very clear, there is a process that is gone through and it reaches all way up to the Minister with a recommendation from the staff, and the Minister under the relevant legislation can either agree or disagree. And that person is issued with a letter if it is in agreement that you get the waiver, and you take that letter to the Customs and the Customs processes your goods, with the exemption provided. That’s the only legal way in which it can happen,” he explained.

Sinckler stated then that if anyone has been bringing vehicles in parts into Barbados and drawing them from the Customs without paying duty, then it would suggest that some illegal acts are taking place at the Port. Moreover, he said to suggest such would be a stain on the reputation of the department and its head.

“I want as a Minister of Finance to defend my public officers, and say to all knowledge available to me that no such credible allegation can be made against the Comptroller of Customs or any other staff member at the Customs Department relative to the issue which was raised in this regard,” Minister Sinckler said.

But, Sinckler acknowledged that vehicles imported whole and car parts attract different rates of duty. To that end, the Cabinet minister went on to say that if persons are using a loophole in the system to pay less duty, then it is incumbent on the authorities to address it.

“What we may have to do is to ensure that if there is a loophole in the law or in the system, that we plug that loophole by ensuring that all of the relevant authorities that deal with importation of cars, licensing of vehicles… work together to ensure that we monitor chassis, engines and those types of things so that if they appear at the Licensing Authority to be registered as a vehicle, having been brought in in parts, if they come at the Licensing Authority or at the insurance companies, as a whole car having been brought in, in parts, that the Customs be notified that such has happened and that the appropriate duties be applied as if they were whole vehicles,” he indicated.

That effort, he said, would also ensure that when assembled the vehicles are also road worthy. (JRT)

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