BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, September 03, 2020 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis has taken yet another step towards improving its border security efforts by moving a significant piece of legislation through the National Assembly that calls for the provision of advanced data/information to the Customs and Excise Department from cargo vessels entering the Federation’s ports.
The Advance Cargo Information Bill, 2020, tabled in the Honourable House today, Thursday, September 03, will facilitate the provision of advance information relating to cargo and passengers of a conveyance. This information will be shared with other countries with a view of identifying the cargo and persons that may pose risks to the Federation’s security while facilitating trade through Electronic Data Interchange.
In explaining the need for such legislation, mover of the bill, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, stated that historically, the Customs Department, under the Customs Act Number 19 of 2014, required the prior notification of arrival.
He said though this allowed for the submission of a declaration prior to the arrival of the conveyance into the Federation, the legislation did not mandate the data elements for such submissions.
“Due to this lack of clarity, the Customs and Excise Department was, in certain cases, only able to secure the bare minimum of information from the manifest declaration information. Mr. Speaker, this lack of information has posed a significant challenge for the Customs and Excise Department to be able to identify, to a sufficient degree of certainty, the threats posed by incoming consignments to the Federation. This in turn has hindered the Department in its ability to effectively implement a proper Risk Management System. The Department has therefore found that the information derived from the manifest system has proven to be wholly inadequate for our contemporary framework and the complex challenges now faced by border control,” the prime minister said.
Prime Minister Harris, who is also the minister responsible for the Customs and Excise Department, added that the bill proposed the introduction of a methodology for inputting one hundred and four data elements into the Advance Cargo Information System.
“Of the one hundred and four data elements, seventy one are mandatory with the remainder being optional. This accounts for sixty eight percent of the total fields. This is a significant amount of relevant information that would now be made available to better assist the Customs and Excise Department in assessing the risk that each consignment poses to the Federation,” the honourable prime minister observed.
Prime Minister Harris stressed that “the information provided by the Advance Cargo Information System would help to ensure that the Customs and Excise Department would be better placed to protect the Federation and the region from threats emanating from international trade.”