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Auditor general’s report highlights concern over unpaid duty

Review in 2011 reveals lack of evidence duty was paid in thousands of instances
Guardian Business Editor

Published: Oct 18, 2013

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The most recently released auditor general’s report highlights the release of a “large number of bills of lading” by the Customs Department “without evidence to suggest duties were collected”.

In its review of the Bahamas Customs Department, conducted as part of the 2011 auditor general’s report, Auditor General Terrance Bastian found 14,182 outstanding manifests.

A cargo manifest is a document containing a list of goods transported on a means of cargo.  It is intended to act as a means of control by notifying customs of the arrival of goods.

Later, a number of these discrepancies were resolved, however the auditor general in his conclusion found that 5,980 “have not been cleared to date”.

The number of outstanding manifest entries in New Providence were found to be 3,186, in Grand Bahama 1,938, and in the Family Islands, 1,938.

Highlighting the fact that this is not the first time such concerns have been brought to light, Bastian states: “These observations were raised in our previous audit reports directly with the Customs Department.  This does not represent the grand total of outstanding entries.”

Meanwhile, the report notes that in the 2010/2011 fiscal year, 821 payment-related queries totaling $346,046.28 were raised by the Customs Department. 370 were “satisfactorily resolved”, resulting in $138,206.75 being collected.

The auditor general’s report found that of the total revenue collected by the department for July 2010 to July 2011, 29 percent arose from excise duty, 49 percent from general import duties, 14 percent from air and sea departure taxes, and eight percent from “other” sources.

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