By Linda Straker
The Division of Customs and Excise has disclosed that the container which it seized earlier in the month was as a result of the sender making a false declaration with regard to the items while clearing it at the port of entry.
“The container in question was originally declared as a donation to the Ministry of Health. On that basis, Customs released the Container to the Ministry of Health. On examination of the container, it was discovered that there were other items which did not concern the Ministry of Health. In short, a false declaration was initially made,” said a press release which was disseminated through the Government Information Service.
“Division of Customs and Excise views false declarations as a very serious matter. Under the Customs Act, the Comptroller of Customs can seize all undeclared goods and issue a fine of up to 5 times the applicable duties and taxes,” the release said, which also explained that based on the findings of the initial investigation by the Customs, the items for the Ministry of Health were released to the Ministry of Health.
“The Division of Customs and Excise then seized the container for a full and thorough investigation, to ascertain the duties and taxes for the other items in the container which were undeclared and for which duties and taxes are payable,” the release said.
Customs officials are in the process of investigating the remaining undeclared items, and will soon submit final report to the Comptroller, who will make a determination as to the way forward.
Despite the unfortunate situation the release said that the Government of Grenada welcomes all appropriate donations, especially in the health sector, but will strongly resist any attempt to defraud the Government of much-needed revenue.
The container at the center of the contention is one sent from Switzerland by Grenadian Chester Simon. He arrived in Grenada during the Christmas holidays, and a ceremonial handing over of the containers and the items for the Ministry was held on 6 January 2015.
Simon admits that he made a error in the bill of lading in which he listed some of the goods as special effects instead of personal items, but was prepared to pay the required amount. He was booked to return to Switzerland on 10 January, but still is still on island because of the investigations. “I will stay here until the matter is resolved,” he said in a recent interview.
Some of the undeclared items include computers and laptops, musical instruments, lawn mowers and other home use items. He said that these items are to give away to persons. This was Simon’s fifth container to Grenada since the passage of Hurricane Ivan in 2004. He explained that the items collected are usually donated items from persons, organisations and institutions.
This story was written with extracts from a press release issued by the Government Information Service