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Merchants still not clear on new Customs duty calculation

Business owners and managers who attended the symposium to learn the new procedure on how the duties are calculated on goods imported held on May 30, 2012. Photo: VINO
Merchants say information at Customs’ symposium not clear, too much information so little time
Merchants say information at Customs’ symposium not clear, too much information so little time
Deputy Commissioner Leslie Lettesome (Left) Assistant Commissioner Sendrick Chinnery (Right) conducting presentation to merchants.
Deputy Commissioner Leslie Lettesome (Left) Assistant Commissioner Sendrick Chinnery (Right) conducting presentation to merchants.
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI - In relation to the recently passed legislation that allows merchants to only be charged duties on goods from their purchase cost, officials from the Customs Department held a symposium in an effort to educate merchants in the Virgin Islands (VI) on how the duties are calculated and the new procedures required in having a successful transaction between merchants and Customs Officers.

The symposium which was held at the Road Town Customs Headquarters yesterday May 30, 2012, was attended by business owners, managers and employees from various sectors.

Customs’ Deputy Commissioner Leslie Lettsome said that based on the line of questions asked by the merchants, he assumed that information was put forward very well in a way that the merchants received it and understood it.

Some merchants though, did not understand the information and felt it was too much in a short space of time.

Speaking to the owner of a popular business situated in Road Town, she said the symposium was very informative but the information was compact, and made it very confusing and not clear enough.

“At a point in time, information that was important was very hard to hear, because of so many people in a small room and talking all at once.”

Speaking to another attendee of the Symposium, a female working at a shipping agency, she told this news site that although all the topics were touched, only 70% of the information was clear.

A group of merchants also shared the same sentiments. One stated that there were certain parts of the presentation that was not understood due to the speed of the presentation.

Meanwhile, Mr. Lettsome stated that the whole idea is to get the merchants versed in the changes.

He added that the government is giving back to the merchants within the communities in the VI and his job is to facilitate that trade to make sure that items that are coming in are not delayed at the dock. “We are here to ensure that they get to the consumer in a timely manner.”

“I think with the system in place and what we are trying to accomplish at this symposium are to educate the public on how it is suppose to be done hence a smooth transition,” stated Deputy Commissioner Lettsome.

In relation to merchants saying that the information was understandable but it was too much to be discussed in so little time, the Deputy Commissioner said information that was not understood, the department would always be available during working hours to answer any questions.

“For those who didn’t understand certain parts of the information given, you can call or come into our offices and request for the information needed.”

He added that the symposium was well attended by the merchants, where the department invited 45 businesses and in attendance there was over 50.

The symposium was conducted Mr. Lettsome along with the Assistant Commissioner of Customs Sendrick Chinnery.

In March 2012, the Customs Management and Duties (Amendment) Act, 2012 was passed which now allows for the calculation of duties for merchants to only be on their purchase price.

According to the legislation, it defines a merchant as an importer who has a valid trade license for the wholesale and retail or retail of goods in an unchanged state. This Mr. Smith further explained means, those merchants purchasing goods that will have to be changed such as those shopping for restaurants where they have to cook the goods, the reduction will not apply to them.

6 Responses to “Merchants still not clear on new Customs duty calculation”

  • polo (31/05/2012, 08:03) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    If they are confused then poor we the consumers
  • zzzzzzzzzzzzzz (31/05/2012, 08:17) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    With the country broke according to Dr. Smith and Wade done say we going loose close to 3 million dollars with this new bill, why is the NDP still pushing this???
  • Tax Reform (31/05/2012, 12:58) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    This initiative will not be beneficial to the consumers in no tangible way. It will be beneficial to the "Merchants" plying their trade by acting as middle men of goods produced outside the country. 1. It applies only to goods that will be cleared at any port of entry and resold in its raw state or unchanged form. eg. Meat imported by a Supermarket for retail or wholesale. Canned goods such as sodas and soft drinks for retail. Flip Side is that Restaurants and cook shops who really need the break wouldn't be able to realize the savings. 2. Your trade licence must be specific and detail your trade so as to cover you as a wholesaler or retailer of the products you want to import. ie A garage or welding shop importing material such as fenders or pipe for repair works would not get a tax break because they are not reselling the imported goods in an unchanged form. When all the variances are added up, this law ONLY APPEASES the large Supermarkets and Wholesalers, by saving them a few hundred dollars on the duty for shipment. When one ponders about the few hundred dollars saved on a container valued at 40K how much saving per item can the CONSUMER realize? Then there is the question of passing the savings on to the consumer, but who will ensure that such savings are actually passed on to the CITIZENS? Who is to say that the money saved wouldn't be used to offset some other expense at the business. My 2 cents is that this law bodes well for the large retailers and does nothing but rub mud in the face of the small man and average citizen.
  • never understand (31/05/2012, 15:23) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    What are the merchants not clear about??....after all they are the only ones benefitting!!
  • Move (31/05/2012, 15:53) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Mr. Smith is really doing a good job at the Customs department...and the devils was trying to send him home.. He is manager always on the move....BAM
  • kenny Rogers (31/05/2012, 23:19) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    they playing that they not clear but I bit they all have receipts for refund

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