Port scanner revenue gets questioned

A
new mega-scanner for Her Majesty’s Customs Service will be able to check the
inside of most cargo containers brought into the George Town port on Grand Cayman.
Right now, officials with the Finance Ministry confirmed that the customs
service is “spot checking” about 5 per cent of the cargo containers that come
into the port.

The
new, large scanner — which has not yet been put out to bid — will be able to
handle between 75 per cent and 90 per cent of the containers that come through
the port.

Customs
Collector Carlon Powery announced plans for the scanner last year, stating it
would allow officers to much more effectively locate contraband – guns and drugs
– if any were aboard port containers.

The
introduction of the device was budgeted to bring in about $2.8 million,
lawmakers in the Legislative Assembly’s Finance Committee were told last month.

The
bills for the scanning services would be sent to the shipping companies
directly, finance officials said.

The
new scanner was expected to cut by half the budget for airport and port
processing and inspections; freeing customs officers to perform other duties.
It would also reduce, but not eliminate, the need for customs officers to do
spot check inspections.

However,
finance committee members determined the device hasn’t arrived on Island yet,
and in fact, hasn’t even been put out to bid.

Cayman’s
new fiscal year began on 1 July.

Finance
officials estimated that the scanner may be ready for service by October.

“So
then the $2.8 million (in revenue) from the customs scanner won’t all be
realised?” Opposition Leader Kurt Tibbetts asked.

There was no audible
answer from the government officials attending the committee. “I think that’s
all I want to ask on that matter,” Mr. Tibbetts said.

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