Customs passes confiscated goods to Health, Agriculture Departments

GREGORY JONES, Customs/Revenue Superintendent

The confiscation of perishable and non-perishable goods has become a hot topic in Grand Bahama.

In that regard, The Freeport News made contact with the Bahamas Customs Department, Grand Bahama, and spoke with Customs/Revenue Superintendent Officer-in-Charge Grand Bahama, Gregory Jones.

“Our main objective is the collection and protection of the country revenue. However, we also perform what is known as ‘agency’ duties on behalf of the various Government agencies, and The Department of Agriculture and Department of Environmental Health Services are some of the agencies that we perform duties for, on their behalf.”

Such items like meat provisions, fruits, vegetables and any articles intended for human food, which in Customs’ opinion, isn’t fit for human consumption, would therefore be subsequently confiscated and they would be disposed of.

“If goods are prohibited, they are automatically subject to confiscation and they would be disposed of in a manner prescribed by the existence of customs law and regulations.

“If you have meat products, they will automatically be turned over to Environmental Health and they would determine what to do with them.

“Other non-perishable goods would be turned over to the Department of Environmental Health or as well as the Department of Agriculture, and they would dispose of them.”

Customs Revenue Superintendent Officer, Larry Bodie provided more information regarding the situation.

“There are certain countries where, let’s say for example, there are some issues that affect our country that may be classified as prohibited, particularly if wood carvings are coming out of Haiti and other countries. They are automatically classified as prohibited.”

Speaking on other non-perishable goods like clothes or used articles, Bahamas Customs, Revenue Superintendent Officer Celestine Cox explained as follows: “Under the Department of the Environmental Health Services, there is a house certificate issued, and in particular, goods like used tires must be fumigated by the department before they are released to the importer.

“Once the goods are fumigated, the Environmental Health officers would bring a certificate of fumigation to the Customs Department and the custom officers would proceed with the necessary documentation as would apply for the release of those goods.”

“If goods are not fumigated, the Customs Department would hold on to the goods and they would not be released until the importer receives a certificate from Environmental Health showing that the fumigation took place,” said Cox.

The officers acknowledged being criticized and blamed for confiscating goods that are subsequently destroyed, but insisted that they operate always with due diligence, to enforce the laws of the land.

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