Customs seeking to halt millions in revenue leakage

Today the customs management optimization project will move into a phase that could recover $15 million in revenue leakage annually from the Customs Department.

The release from the Ministry of Finance explained that international Customs consultants TTEK Inc. will assist the Customs Department in bolstering its revenue collection platform in order to enhance tax collection, through an almost $1.4 million contract with the government.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said in the release that the government has been looking for every opportunity to enhance its revenue collection. He explained that it is modernizing its systems in order to do so.

“It will ensure that we are using modern data analytic capabilities to the fullest extent, so as to highlight and address revenue collection anomalies and to close any significant holes in our collection of customs duties,” Turnquest said.

“It will provide an operational road map to optimize the management structure at customs and harness the wealth of expertise within the department to meet the needs of a modern Bahamas.”

According to the release, TTEK will assess the Customs Department for five weeks in order to identify where the leakages in the system are occurring and address them.

The release added that five international customs experts will work along with local customs officers in order to introduce the reforms that TTEK finds necessary to address whatever leakage points are found.

“The engagement will provide for an initial five-week assessment of the Customs Department to identify opportunities to address revenue leakage, using advanced data analytic tools to undertake a ‘deep dive’ of several years of customs import data,” the release noted.

Turnquest added: “What we are particularly keen on is the fact that we will have seasoned customs experts from around the world working directly alongside our customs management team for about seven months to help guide the implementation of the reform efforts and provide ongoing support to enhance the use of investigative and data analytic techniques.

“TTEK was selected as the winning bidder in part because its core expertise is customs and border management. Its resume includes a diverse range of countries, including work in the Caribbean region with countries that share many of the same challenges and opportunities. Because the team on the ground will be comprised in large part by former customs officers and managers, we feel that they will have the real-life experience to add tremendous value to the government’s reform efforts.”

TTEK, according to the release, specializes in customs and border management consultancies and technical solutions and has worked in countries such as Australia, the United States, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bangladesh, Ghana, the Philippines, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.

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Chester Robards

Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian. Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism

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