The Customs and Excise Department is not reclassifying items brought into this country by importers.
This was emphasised today by the Comptroller of Customs, Frank Holder, in response to an alleged statement made recently in a section of the print media by the Customs Brokers Association, which indicated that the department was reclassifying items.
In a clarification of the matter, Mr. Holder emphasised that the regulations and procedures have been in place since 1962 and form part of the Laws of Barbados. However, he said that the procedures "will from time to time form part of written examinations which brokers must pass in order to obtain a license to do business".
The official pointed out that differences of opinion will occur between importers and the Customs and Excise department as to the correct classification of goods. In such a situation, the Comptroller of Customs explained that "the importer shall pay the duty demanded and immediately remove the goods pending settlement of the dispute."
He noted that a classification committee had always existed in the Customs department to determine the correct tariff heading under which goods must fall. "It comprises officials of the Customs and Excise department, the Ministry of Commerce, and the Barbados Industrial Development Corporation. The committee must follow the interpretative, sectional and chapter rules set out in the Customs Tariff Order" the Comptroller of Customs stressed. Furthermore, Mr. Holder said "any importer who is aggrieved by the decision of the committee may require that the matter go to arbitration or take it to the High Court.
The Comptroller of Customs disclosed that the same system exists in most customs jurisdictions and has the same structure of appeals against any decision. "For example, in the United States and the United Kingdom, some classification committee rulings are overturned by the Courts," he stated.
However, Mr. Holder underlined that the decision of the committee does not always result in the payment of additional duties. In fact, he revealed that last year, the department refunded over $39,000 to one importer who was incorrectly classifying his goods.
Importers who wish to import new products may seek the opinion of the classification committee before importation of the goods. All information on the items and samples (if possible) must be submitted. Furthermore, the goods imported must relate in all aspects to the information submitted. Persons importing items into Barbados are advised that they must follow the correct procedures at all times.