Customs brokers conduct to get legal scrutiny

Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda Gaston Browne (courtesy ABLP)

The legal framework to regulate the conduct of customs brokers is being put in place with the passage of a bill in the House of Representatives on Thursday.

The Customs (Control and Management) (Amendment) Bill was passed unopposed. And while its major effect will be to make the government a secured creditor where a business is liquidated with outstanding duties, there is provision addressing customs brokerage.

“The amendment bill also includes a provision that would allow the subject minister to make regulations for the licensing of customs brokers, the establishment of a brokers’ board, and for the general control and management of customs brokers in Antigua and Barbuda,” Prime Minister Gaston Browne told the House.

“We recognise too that we have a number of brokers operating. The truth is we need to have regulations to control their conduct. We have had some abuses and we’re seeking to put things under control and to ensure that we run the Customs Department properly and that there is no opportunity for mischief.”

Opposition leader Baldwin Spencer said he supported the bill but added that the practice of having all three readings and passage of a bill done the same day did people a disservice.

“I would have hoped though that those persons who would be affected by this, one way or the other, would have been given a sort of idea as to the rationale and the justification for moving in this direction because this is all part of the consultative approach to governance and the so-called participatory democracy that we speak about.”

(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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