Now that I have your attention, let us ‘talk’ a little bit about some of the specific principles required to make the customs agency in Jamaica as efficient, effective, and accountable as all stakeholders would like it to be.
In discussions with the management and users of Jamaica Customs over the past week, it became clear that they all have a common vision. Everybody with whom I spoke wanted to work with the international partners, such as the World Bank to craft and execute a plan of action that will foster the business-friendly environment that is desperately so needed boost Jamaica’s thrust to boost economic growth and global competitiveness.
We all agreed as well that to get that point Jamaica Customs will need to go through a modernization process underpinned by international best practices. The time is now. Jamaica must seize the moment as the lead organization just entered the “transition” phase of becoming a full Executive Agency, a process expected to last about two years.
The literature of best practice recognizes that modern Customs operations must be concerned with much more than simply the traditional thrust of revenue collection. Other critical functions include advisory services, policy implementation, trade facilitation and border security. Of course in the current global dispensation, the expectations of the clients of Customs operations continue to rise. We no longer just request, but we expect that all these functions will be executed in a way that is simpler, faster, and cheaper.
In the case of Jamaica when the modernization process reaches a mature state, Customs will be in a position to translate this to significant contributions to the economic growth of the country. For example, as policy advisor the modernization process will enable the Customs to provide up to date information on trade for access and use by policy developers and decision makers.
In its policy implementation role, the modernization process will allow the Customs to support the smooth and efficient articulation of trade agreements. A modernized Customs as trade facilitator will enable the profitable operations of the local trading community.
Finally as security provider the modernization process will allow the Customs to coordinate effectively with other government agencies to better secure the country’s physical and economic interests. A modern customs will support country priorities in an effective manner such as the heavily touted logistic hub where customs must be present yet unobtrusive. It would be counter intuitive to interfere with trade flows of trade, but rather to support its optimization.