Ministry says customs chief to be chosen this month

Finance Ministry officials said last week that they hoped to have a permanent collector of customs in place by the end of June, following a lengthy recruitment process.

“The most recent attempt to secure the collector of customs position is our sixth attempt,” said Financial Secretary Ken Jefferson, who was asked about the hiring process during the Legislative Assembly’s Finance Committee.

Mr. Jefferson said four Caymanians were short-listed for the job and that final interviews were conducted last week.

One of the four was a senior customs officer, another is a civil servant and the other two work in the private sector, Mr. Jefferson said.

The Cayman Compass has learned one of the finalists is former tourism minister, attorney Charles Clifford. Mr. Clifford declined to comment Tuesday when contacted regarding his interest in the position.

Mr. Jefferson also did not respond to questions about who was on the short list for the collector’s job, which serves in both a key law enforcement/border protection function and is one of government’s chief revenue collectors.

The last full-time collector retired from the service in May 2012. Carlon Powery had served nearly 20 years at the head of Her Majesty’s Customs Service.

After Mr. Powery’s departure, a number of acting collectors took the helm, including a number of assistant collectors and a deputy chief immigration officer who was seconded to the post in 2013. Acting Collector Marlon Bodden, a former police officer who joined customs in 2014, was serving in the post last week when the department appeared before the LA’s Finance Committee.

West Bay MLA Bernie Bush wondered whether the recruitment difficulties could have been avoided with better succession plans.

“We’ve had three years that we could have prepared [a person], now we have to wait three years and go through this,” Mr. Bush said. “I hope in the future, when these things come along … we can bring someone to understudy.”

Acting Customs Collector Samantha Bennett returned to her former position at the Immigration Department in January after spending a little over a year heading Customs under a secondment posting.

According to a government statement, Ms. Bennett participated in the Finance Ministry’s fifth recruitment process for the job. The recruitment process was supposed to have ended in October 2014.