While reporting a “so far, so good” situation at the Customs and Excise Department, Comptroller Andy Fernelon is lamenting the level of non-compliance from some individuals who conduct business with his department.
Fernelon officially took up the post of comptroller earlier this year after acting in that role for months. Speaking to Saint Lucia News Online (SNO) in March, he said that a number of key positions in the organisation had been vacant and were due to be filled in the coming weeks.
He confirmed on July 31 that all of these posts are now filled and have been so since June month end.
In the brief interview, Fernelon said his division has been faced with many challenges regarding compliance from the public.
Non-compliance refers to matters like false declarations, false invoicing and fraudulent evasion of duties and taxes on goods.
“Unfortunately, the level of compliance is not the best. So we have a lot of challenges in making some people comply. We’ve implemented programs that would benefit the importing public but like I said unfortunately we do not have the level of compliance that we think we should be at right now,” he said.
Fernelon stated that under-valuation is a major concern.
“We’ve intercepted a number of situations especially under-valuation and we’re really trying our best to encourage people to comply … I must tell you it is very challenging,” he said.
But despite these hiccups, Fernelon said his department remains committed to its goal of improving operations in order to see enhancements in the way business is conducted in St. Lucia.
“That’s what we really want,” he said, while noting that the department has worked with both manufacturers and the Chamber of Commerce in making improvements geared at that goal.
He said a core objective is to enhance the processes involved in getting goods from the ports to the shelves.