Government forced to delay Customs merger into BRA

With unionized workers at the Customs & Excise Department still not budging, Government has seemingly resigned itself to another year without having Customs under the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) umbrella.

At least, that is what the 2017/2018 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, which are currently being debated in the House of Assembly, seem to indicate.

In its bid to fast track the merger last year, Government had transferred much of the Customs budget to BRA.

However, after running into a major stumbling block with the unionized workers who have been finding all sorts of excuses not to sign on to the central revenue collection agency, the administration was forced to revise its estimates by $12 million.

Just a few weeks ago, the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), which represents the Customs workers, called for an official probe into BRA, charging that the state agency was not only inefficient, but that it had failed to honour outstanding tax refunds.

Without going into details, union spokesman Wayne Walrond had also claimed that public officers who recently took up employment with the umbrella revenue collection agency were either opting to return to the public service or to take early retirement.

NUPW spokesman Wayne Walrond

Walrond further charged that Government had failed to have pension arrangements finalized for officers who had transitioned to the BRA, thus depriving them of receiving a higher pension and gratuity based on higher emoluments earned under that Authority.

It was on this basis that the Assistant General Secretary said his union was sticking to its guns on the proposed merger of the Customs & Excise Department into BRA. And he warned that NUPW members would not be bullied into joining the umbrella agency.

“First, the NUPW wishes to state that Customs officers have the right to exercise an option to go or not go with the BRA,” the union spokesman had said in a statement, adding that “the union has always respected that democratic right and does not intend to force any public officer, including those at the Customs & Excise Department, to accept employment with the BRA”.

As if accepting that no agreement would be immediately forthcoming, Government has pretty much restored the Customs budget, including $2.6 million in personal emoluments, $1.3 million in employee contributions, and $10 million is statutory personal emoluments.

The delay in the Customs merger is also reflected in the BRA’s budget for the 2017-2018 which has been decreased to $26 million, down from $33 million for the current financial year, which ends on March 31.

However, this could be the last opportunity for Customs workers to accept their fate, since no provision has been made in Government’s Forward Estimates for Customs in 2018/19, while BRA’s total allocation is to be increased to $44 million next year.

In the meantime, Government has also allocated $10 million to improve the administration of taxes through the acquisition and implementation of an integrated electronic information system for BRA and security scanning equipment for the Customs Department.

13 Responses to Government forced to delay Customs merger into BRA

  1. Angus Benn
    Angus Benn March 15, 2017 at 3:43 am

    The custom should not merge. You will have to merge the police force and Defense force also if you merge the custom.

    • Haskell Murray March 15, 2017 at 9:47 am

      Pure nonsense

  2. Ernesta Catlyn March 15, 2017 at 4:52 am

    Neither Customs nor Land Tax should have been included in the BRA. Hopefully sound thinking will prevail eventually.

    • Haskell Murray March 15, 2017 at 9:50 am

      You talking bare nonsense , any government in Barbados has the constitutional right to create , dismantle and merge any department

  3. Peter March 15, 2017 at 9:01 am

    These are two separate revenue collecting entities and should not be merged. This way transparent financial audits can exhibit clarity in their financial intakes. This will allow separate receipts to be issued and payments cannot be disguised thus cutting down on corruption which can go rampant. My suggestion here. If Government introduces a 20% tax rebate on all duties paid on submission of official documents by both private persons and businesses. Lots of under the table corruptive payments will be avoided. By official documents, means every payment to customs MUST Carry a transaction number, a date and time, issuing customs officer name and number. This system can be easily computerized. Forensic auditing will reveal any and every such under the table handshake. Every duty payable transaction will be expedited with speed and accuracy. as these claimers will no doubt want their claim value. Government WILL be ascertained of payments. No one will point fingers at customs. This is one of surely and carefully policing this revenue collecting department. Private businesses will be able to audit their customs payments and claims too.

    • Haskell Murray March 15, 2017 at 9:54 am

      You talking bare nonsense , any government in Barbados has the constitutional right to create , dismantle and merge any department. You missed the point completely, the issue is not auditing or policing t, the issue is merging two departments

      • Peter March 15, 2017 at 11:13 am

        Haskell I swear you must be a customs officer. Don’t hide. Why can’t the two bodies collect it separately and deposit it to one account. You got something to hide? I am sure you got a big house…

    • Adrian March 15, 2017 at 6:53 pm

      Putting all revenue collecting agencies under one umbrella, or into one agency is good for record keeping, is good for many other reasons which I need not to get into. The only argument against putting customs under BRA is that customs is also has an element of law enforcement.
      By the way, this amalgamation of revenue collecting agencies was on the cards from the time Inland Revenue was computerized.

  4. Peter March 15, 2017 at 11:17 am

    You hiding behind constitutional rites to get your hands greased. Don’t you? Aren’t the DEMs 30 parlimentarians merged? What more merger do you want to hide corruption and thieving?

  5. jennifer March 15, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    All wanna want to do is to mek poor people life more difficult. Check them lot that charging 10 000 for lots toilet bowl. And 20 000 for cutting grass. The high rollers and the low rollers in the same trench. All of them merge b, d and r.

  6. jennifer March 15, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    One toilet

  7. Johnathan March 15, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    Both Jennifer and Peter just airing their mouths as stupid DEMS. Customs is a highly specialized area and you put and idiot who knows nothing about customs duties ,laws border patrol nothing and they are in charge, pure ignorance. Nothing is wrong with hooking up the customs computers to revenue to ensure accurate daily collections .
    Everything is wrong with dismantling the customs and border patrol.

  8. Peter March 15, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    Jonathan. How do you know the paper trail will be accurate and transparent? will they publish separate Audit reports? Showing who was paid how much and for what. Do some audit research you Johnny, You’ll see how easy it is see how easy it is for people to hide money. Certain people can move large amounts from account to account to avoid paying taxes. I know of ex-pats who were taken to the cleaners by local customs. they had to pay in cash as there were no paper trails. It happened to me a number of years ago. The third or middle man there was a truck driver.


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