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Gov’T Blocks Huge Customs Shake-Up

Finance Minister K Peter Turnquest speaks in Parliament.

Finance Minister K Peter Turnquest speaks in Parliament.

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

The Deputy Prime Minister yesterday confirmed he has halted the transfer of more than 250 Customs officers due to the upheaval such a shake-up threatens to cause.

K P Turnquest told Tribune Business that the Government was “actively reviewing” the Comptroller’s strategic plan, which proposes transferring hundreds of officers - from the highest to the lowest ranks - to different islands and functions.

This newspaper has obtained the six-page September 19, 2017, memorandum from comptroller Charles Turner listing the personnel transfers, which impact superintendents all the way down to clerical assistants.

The re-organisation was set to affect 15 Customs superintendents, with one set to be transferred from Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) to Freeport, and another going in the opposite direction.

Another superintendent was to be switched from Governor’s Harbour in Eleuthera to Customs’ bonded goods section, while another was to be redeployed from Post Clearance Audit to that same Family Island.

The transfers involving the superintendents were typical of those affecting all other ranks, with Customs officers, for example, being transferred to the LPIA in Nassau from islands such as San Salvador and Long Island. Other moves went the other way, with persons being switched from Nassau to the Family Islands.

The Comptroller’s memorandum contained no rationale for the transfers, or the selection of those involved, with the moves largely set to take effect on two different dates - September 25, 2017, and November 6, 2017.

Mr Turnquest yesterday indicated he had halted the transfers, at least temporarily, due to the potential turmoil it threatens to cause for both Customs and its officers’ families.

“We are actively reviewing the Comptroller’s strategic plan, and as soon as we have had an opportunity to meet and discuss that, we will proceed with whatever direction needs to be taken,” Mr Turnquest told Tribune Business.

Comments

sheeprunner12 1 week, 5 days ago

Interesting turn of events ........... This should not be discussed in public ....... sounds Trumpian

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 week, 5 days ago

The Comptroller of Custom's strategic plan should have been welcomed and endorsed by K P Turnquest as an excellent means of shaking up and rooting out the fraud and corruption that is endemic throughout the Customs' Department. It is well known that employers in the private sector (especially banks) move their personnel around different departments and locations, and force personnel in key positions to take their annual vacation, all for the purpose of making their businesses less vulnerable to fraudulent activities. As a professional accountant, K P Turnquest knows this to be the case and, as Minister of Finance, should be most supportive of the Comptroller of Customs serious initiative to make sure it is made very difficult and/or costly for the many tax dodgers in our society to bribe Customs Officers. There is no other effective way of disrupting, uncovering and dismantling the many clever and complex fraudulent schemes that exist within the Customs Department today - schemes that only benefit the very wealthy tax dodgers and starve our Public Treasury of the funds needed to properly govern our country. K P Turnquest seems to be wrongfully kowtowing to the wishes of some very influential tax dodgers in our society. He needs to explain himself - we, the people, did not vote for corrupt government as usual!

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DDK 1 week, 5 days ago

Agreed. I am finding this DPM very confusing, to say the least.

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proudloudandfnm 1 week, 5 days ago

But this happens every few years. I don't get why this is such a big deal all of a sudden.

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sheeprunner12 1 week, 5 days ago

It is very expensive to move P&P officers around the country these days ..... too many union rights and allowances to consider

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proudloudandfnm 1 week, 5 days ago

I don't know. I see nothing wrong with this. I always thought it was a good thing. I still don't see halting a shake up. I see normal officer transfers that have been going on since day one. Always thought it was a good anti corruption move...

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The_Oracle 1 week, 5 days ago

While a shake up can "displace" routines of fraud and graft it is no real answer to the problem. The fraud quickly re-establishes itself where ever it lands. Looking a little deeper it seems purposed to place Nassau officers in Freeport, most of whom would have little understanding of the H.C.A. imports regime. Added to the supposed Launch of the Customs "Single payee Window system" and given the fact it gives the H.C.A. bonded situation no consideration, and in fact as it was presented early 2017 directly contravenes court rulings pertaining to Bahamas Customs predictable and arbitrary attacks, I'd say another Bahamas Customs attack on Freeport is scheduled. every 5-6 years is about right. You'd think they'd learn......

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Sickened 1 week, 5 days ago

Agents who steal a lot should be moved to the family islands where they can only steal a little. We know most customs agents in LPIA steal because either the bag boys tell us so or the agent asks for something directly.

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sheeprunner12 1 week, 5 days ago

No, there should be sting operations that get rid of the crooked agents.

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DDK 1 week, 4 days ago

No, they should be terminated.

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Sickened 1 week, 4 days ago

Then we will never have any customs agents and never collect any revenue and the prison will be the size of Nassau. Oh wait - it already is!

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The_Oracle 1 week, 5 days ago

Therein lies the rub: Customs has the authority to investigate fraud where suspected and prosecute. No more, no less. No, it is easier to make new rules which no one follows, nor can understand.

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bogart 1 week, 5 days ago

Any civilian who takes a job in any of the law enforcement agency to protect the assets and ensure security should be prepared to move to any part of the country.

Furthermore when dealing with money matters good accounting measures mandate that no official stays in one place for lengthy time. Given the history of alleged fraud, bribes, undervaluing, rebranding catehory for lesser rate, mona vie etc, officers must be transferred where necessary.

No officer is bigger than the govt.

Disappointed the Minister is supporting the chief even in part given the importance of the revenue collection of the peoples money. No govt agency is bigger than the people.

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happyfly 1 week, 4 days ago

Everything that has been tried in my lifetime to stamp out rampant corruption in customs has failed. Mass firing, retraining, computerization, relocation. Hopefully one day the boss will realize that a simple system with one moderate, socially acceptable, standard rate for everything would wipe out 90% of the opportunities to twist and turn within the system. Good lord knows we could do without 10 different rates of duty on various parts of chicken ana ana lumber is duty free but nails are 45% ?????? I bet an actuarian's salary for a year that a flat rate of 12.5% import duty on everything across the board would double the governments income with half the customs staff to manage it

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DDK 1 week, 4 days ago

But that would be sensible, happyfly!

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The_Oracle 1 week, 4 days ago

WTO requires we drop duty rates to 8-10% across the board, and prevents the high duty rates to protect local products. Problem is we negotiated a gradual reduction by 2025. Ministry of finance was hoping (against all sensibility) that they could ride a revenue "swell" by collecting VAT and Duty! Some damn fool elected Economist forecast that tripe. We still have a business community 90% clueless as to what is coming, what has been "negotiated" on our behalf. Look at the surprise when government actually implemented VAT! (8 years + after committed to) Fault lies on both Government and private sector as the former treats the latter like mushrooms. If the Government won't inform the private sector better inform itself!

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DEDDIE 1 week, 4 days ago

I don't support the tearing apart of families. I know of a situation right know where the husband is working on a family island separate and apart from his wife and children for the past three years. If there is a need to send an officer to a family island send the single ones.Our society is in chaos because we don't value the concept and virtue of a proper family structure.

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Sickened 1 week, 4 days ago

Family structure? What is this you speak of? We don't have many families here. We have women with kids and men.

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BahamasForBahamians 1 week, 4 days ago

What an idiot for a DPM..

Govt Blocks Shake up Proposed by Govt!... wtf???

We have an Idiot for DPM. How does the government block something it proposed. He's acting like he's saving the day by stopping this shake up when it was him proposing it!.

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The_Oracle 1 week, 4 days ago

A total upheaval from top to bottom/island to island dues not "a few regular transfers" make. Something stinks, and it ain't K.Peter.

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sheeprunner12 1 week, 4 days ago

Is the Comptroller the problem??????? Sounds like a Road Traffic situation.

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