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Businessman complains of runaround from Customs

Barbados will always encounter challenges in its attempts to improve economic growth as long as the actions of certain Government departments and agencies have the effect of frustrating instead of facilitating business, an upset small businessman said today.

Bertram Jones, director of Bargain Motors Inc. which imports and sells pre-owned Japanese vehicles, underscored this point as he expressed frustration over the lengthy delay he is experiencing getting Customs to resolve an issue which is holding up the release of 47 cars at the Bridgetown Port.


Businessman Bertram Jones is unable to get his cars out of the port.

Businessman Bertram Jones is unable to get his cars out of the port.

“The company operates a Customs warehouse/bond. From June this year, we have had these cars lying in the Port because the warehouse was reading ‘full’, meaning we had reached maximum capacity and could no longer utilize its services,” Jones told Barbados TODAY.

The vehicle importer said he subsequently carried out a search because he was not convinced that the warehouse had reached its limit.  Producing documents, he said between June 2013 and October 2014, the company had paid $2,399,635.50 in Customs duties but the Customs computer system had recorded only $1,789,409.90, leaving an unexplained shortfall of $610,225.60.

Jones said he tried to draw this discrepancy to the attention of acting Comptroller of Customs Annette Weekes.

“After many unsuccessful telephone calls, written correspondence, and a couple visits to the Warrens Complex, the Comptroller finally responded by saying that she wrote to the Revenue Commissioner, Ms Margaret Sivers, requesting assistance from their IT Department, but Ms Sivers responded to both of us by email, saying, ‘it is a matter of Customs’,” he said.

Since this email, the Bargain Motors director said he had written Weekes no less than seven times in an effort to resolve the issue but had not even received the courtesy of an acknowledgment to his correspondence. After getting the run-around for the last six months, Jones said he was left to wonder whether his was a case of “undiluted, unashamed and contemptuous victimization.”

Bargain Motors, which operates from Enterprise Main Road, Christ Church, has been importing pre-owned vehicles from Japan for 18 years. It has a staff compliment of 10 direct and indirect employees.

“We cannot clear our stock from the port because of our warehouse’s incorrect reading.  We discovered discrepancies with our account and outlined the problem to the attention of the relevant stakeholders. However, it appears that this matter is not significant enough. Are we serious about developing and pushing small businesses and reducing unemployment?” asked Jones, a Ph.D. student in management at Walden University.

He added: “Forty seven units, worth close to a million dollars in duties, have been sitting in the Port for six months. The Government has not earned one cent on these cars. I thought the Government needed cash. Are these cars going to be released when they have rusted?”

Jones said he had taken his case to Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss, whom he said “really tried to help”. The businessman said he was not seeking a fight with Customs but felt this Department should be more sensitive of its trade facilitation function in this era of trade liberalization.

“This matter has dragged on for too long. I felt forced to go public because I felt my requests for resolution have been ignored. I am a customer of Customs and deserve to be treated with courtesy, fairness and respect. I want to have this matter resolved so that I can get on with my legitimate business, instead of facing the threat of going out of business as has been the fate of many used car importers over the years,” Jones added.

Attempts to reach the acting Comptroller of Customs for a comment were unsuccessful.

11 Responses to Businessman complains of runaround from Customs

  1. dave December 4, 2015 at 7:32 am

    Blame the DLP Govt for this mess. First they putting the wrong people in positions because these people are bombastic, have degrees and feel entitled and thats all. There are persons who can do the job , who have the core competencies and who are diligentl workers who are being unfaired and treated badly by this DLP Govt while idiots occupying positions and drawing money but do not know anything –that is why decisions take so long in Govt because people in positions because of connections and if they have a degree –nothing to do with practical knowledge of the work. Big problem in the Public Service –Big Big problem . So they run from making decisions and take no responsibility . They simply do not know what they are doing but have the authority but the persons who know what to do have no degree-so they have no authority . It is confused –you see how one send it to the other and the other sent it back and then you cannot reach them –no answers –no meeting. Incompetence at the highest level ! Boy Betram , you now got to run around I feel for you ! Cuddear !! In my near 75 years, In have not seen so much nonsense. Barbados Gone !!! –and we talking about 50th anniversary of Independence–Bare Hogwash —Independence what ?? We are going to spend a big set of foolish money on nonsense –This Govt is the “absolut” worst–probably drinking too much absolut —hey wha dat ?

    • Donild Trimp December 4, 2015 at 12:17 pm

      Dave, Barbados is full of these degreed idiot people.

      The term for them is “EDUCATED FOOLS”.

      I dealt with many of them in the past and believe me, it is quite an embarrassment.

      Can you imagine reporting the following to Custom Officials “he said between June 2013 and October 2014, the company had paid $2,399,635.50 in Customs duties but the Customs computer system had recorded only $1,789,409.90, leaving an unexplained shortfall of $610,225.60.”

      — and they treating it like business as usual?

      Who are these ignorant people and how do they get to keep their jobs? smh!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. dwayne jordan December 4, 2015 at 7:48 am

    There is a disconnect in their mind between their job and the society at large which is affected by them. Most customs officials actually go home feeling they have done a great job by holding up a dialysis machine bc they have no channel to process/accept charity even if in the interest of themselves.

    So even if the customs official him/herself was diabetic and needed the use of said machine, it would still get hold up and rust out.

  3. Adrian Hinds December 4, 2015 at 10:06 am

    This is planned behavior to frustrate competition. This benefits the status quo, the so called big players – and it is not for free, it is a paid service -underhand of course.

    • Donild Trimp December 4, 2015 at 1:10 pm

      Adrian, we all know how the business world is intertwined with the Gov’t of the moment but when something is this blatant should there not be some sort of action taken?

      If no action is taken it would look like this behavior is something that is openly condoned by the Prime Minister himself but that can’t be so, can it?

      What rankles me is the following nonchalant response from the Revenue Commissioner ‘it is a matter of Customs’.

      Another arrogant “EDUCATED FOOL”.

  4. Tony Waterman December 4, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    if i were this Business Man, i would as my Lawyer to find out from the Comptroller of Customs, where my $610,, it might not even be in the Bank account of the BRA.
    Also when he finally gets his Cars, i hope he is smart enough not to pay any storage fees because of their INCOMPETENCE.

  5. dave December 4, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    Donild . Tony , Adrian et al –The problem with Customs is like the problem with anywhere else where if the Head is Bad …………….you know the rest. The Prime Minister and the Government is to take the blame for these bad heads in charge of Govt Departments. They really need to stop messing up various departments by putting people who know nothing about the job or departments that they are in charge of. The problem is that an Accountant cannot do the job of Comptroller of Customs. Customs should be administered by Customs Officers but the Government has brought all sorts of idiots from all over the place and paying them big money for doing absolutely nothing. The ignorant Govt Ministers are being fooled by people with academic qualifications who might be able to tell them what they want to hear and the Government is putting these people in positions and destroying departments, the public service and the country. The problem at Customs , as I have been told only half an hour ago is that BRA has taken over the ASYCUDA functions even though Customs has not yet transitioned to BRA. BRA took away the IT persons in Customs who were in charge of the Asycuda except for one the main guy who is languishing at the Airport looking in passengers luggage instead of doing the work that he has been trained to do in Asycuda for Customs. Only bout hey ! So if you want anything done that involves Asycuda –Dog eat yuh Supper and the women in charge playing ping pong–Jokers all dem . The DLP is to blame , they dont know what they are doing and this country suffering. The Government is to be blamed. Chris Sicnkler -where yuh ? Freundel ???–They cant blame the BLP now–It is happening under their watch

  6. BOBO THE SAME CLOWN December 4, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    It is a shame to hear how this gentleman has been treated by the red tape that has forever been associated with getting legitimate importations cleared by through Customs in Barbados. Anyone that has had to deal with our local Custom agents ,would have a story to tell about how frustrating it is to do business at the port (Unless of course you have a buddy there or some funds are passed ).
    To clear a simple package at the Port is like trying to pull a tooth . They are the ****removed**** in all the Department of Government in Barbados , and many feel that they above the law the way they act . I wish i could see things the way they do , but i just can’t get my head so far up my a**.

  7. dave December 4, 2015 at 9:20 pm

    LOL @ Bobo The Same Clown

  8. Olutoye Walrond December 4, 2015 at 10:12 pm

    Imagine writing seven letters to the head of a government department and not receiving a response. How much more ridiculous can it get in this country? Why is that the heads of public agencies in this country feel they are above responding to enquiries from the people they serve? I have my own experience with that.

    They seems to be a notion among many negrocrats in possession of the proverbial bunch of keys and a stick that they are here to to do us a favour, rather than to serve. High time the political directorate disabuses their minds of that notion.

    As for the port – if the powers that be will not reform the attitude and methods of this department it is going to be the very death knell of Barbados. These people have absolutely no conscience nor consideration for the national well being.

  9. dave December 5, 2015 at 10:07 pm

    It is a female thing: Ignorant and know ing very little ; spiteful and not and peace with themselves; fat and overweight with high blood pressure causing them to be vex and quarrelsome leading to crass behaviour and un-professionalism. Dont mix-up port and customs Mr Waldrond, there are two separate entities operating in the same space.


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