By Linda Straker
Two weeks after it was seized by Customs officials, a container which had medical supplies and other items is still in the possession of Customs.
The container was donated to the Ministry of Health by Mr Chester Simon — a Grenadian who resides in Switzerland. He arrived on the island over the Christmas holidays, and personally participated in the ceremonial handing over of the medical supplies on 6 January 2015.
Shortly after he made the presentation to Health Officials, two officers from the Customs had a discussion with him and then took over possession of container. It is understood that there are some items in the container which were undeclared to Customs, and because they were not officially among the donated items to the Government, can be subjected to Customs duties.
Simon admits that he made a mistake on the Bill of Lading, in which he described the goods as “Special Effects” instead of “Personal Effects” but explained that most the items that fall into that category are to be donated to children and elderly. He said that some of the items included computers and musical equipment.
“My intention is to open a musical school in memory of my brother Broko, who was a top saxophonist, but died some time ago,” he said.
“I am still awaiting the report that will bring a resolution to the matter,” Simon said on Monday, as he explained that the situation has resulted in him changing his flight arrangement from 10 January to the 17th, and is now unsure when he will depart.
“I am not leaving until this is resolved, and I do believe that it will be done sometime this week,” he said. “I am awaiting the report and we will see what happens following the report,” he said.
As part of the investigations, all the items were catalogued, including the medical supplies which were already removed and handed over to health officials.
Under normal procedure, whenever Government receives a donation of supplies or goods, it is exempted from paying taxes because it is for general use of the state. However, if a donor of supplies violates the Customs regulations, then Customs officers will enforce the necessary guidelines for investigations.
The report of that investigation is then submitted to the Comptroller for his determination. The law provides for a person or company who attempts to evade duties at Customs, to be charged as much as nine times the original amount which would have been due.