Junior Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Paul Blake, has expressed deep concern and disappointment over the Government’s failure to transmit the Common External Tariff (CET) waiver received from Caricom on Monday (April 24) to the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA).
Blake said as of May 5, 2023, the JCA is still not reflecting the duty-free status, causing significant delays and financial losses for local farmers and businesses.
“The delayed implementation of the CET waiver has resulted in containers of feed being stranded on the wharf, incurring demurrage charges even while there is no inventory of tilapia feed in the market.”
According to a statement issued by the PNP, containers cleared prior to the recognition of the CET will result in a 20 per cent increase in feed prices.
“This increase will have negative consequences for farmers and consumers alike, particularly those already struggling to make ends meet in the wake of the pandemic and subsequent increases in the cost of living,” the statement said.
Blake said the Government’s failure to implement the CET waiver will affect the development of the agricultural sector.
“The Government has a responsibility to act in the best interests of its citizens and businesses. Its failure to implement the CET waiver is not only causing financial losses but also impeding the development of the agricultural sector, which is a vital contributor to Jamaica’s economy. This situation is unacceptable and cannot continue,” said Blake.
‘Government must act now’
Blake is calling on the Government to take immediate action to implement the CET waiver and ensure that the JCA reflects the duty-free status of imported feed.
He further added that the Government must also take steps to prevent similar delays from happening in the future by streamlining its communication and decision-making processes.
“The Jamaican people and businesses deserve better. We must work together to ensure that the agricultural sector is given the support it needs to thrive, especially during these challenging times”, he said.