Glenroy Andrew’s Contribution

General Meeting on Wednesday 10th June 2009.

 

GLENROY ANDREW’S CONTRIBUTION TOWARDS
THE CUSTOMS CLERKS AND CUSTOMS BROKERS ASSOCIATION
GENERAL MEETING ON WEDNESDAY 10TH JUNE 2009.

 

Our Industry has always been faced with adversity of one kind or another, but today we are facing both “Asycuda World” and “Non-mandatory use of Customs Brokers and Customs Clerk”.

Customs Brokers and Customs Clerks is a very strong and resilient group of people. I am very sure and confident that we can overcome the adversities before us with co-operation and transformation.

We have a very good piece of legislation call the “Customs Brokers and Customs clerk Act” which have latitude and flexibility for the licencing of Customs Brokers.

If one believes that the business community would be happy with the non-mandatory use of Customs Brokers in particular, then we must fight fire with fire by unleashing about two hundred (200) new Customs Brokers on the Trinidad market within one year or less.

We also need to give the business community some sense of hope and satisfaction by the formation of Brokerage Houses. This can only be done with at best 300 brokers or more in Trinidad and Tobago. 

“CUSTOMS BROKER”

“Customs Broker” means an independent person who undertakes or holds himself out as willing to undertake for remuneration, fee or reward to act on behalf on any other person or persons generally, or who in fact so acts in connection with the entering and clearing of goods or other transactions under the customs laws.

The way that Customs Brokers operate in Trinidad and Tobago at present is very brutal to Customs clerks. They have been allowed to trample upon Customs Clerks and have brought Customs Clerks to become their footstool. What is most shocking is that they have gotten the blessings and unlawful permission of the Customs Broker’s Board so to do.

The fact that the Customs Broker is an independent person, who enters and clears goods or transacts other business under the Customs Laws, debars him form employing Customs clerks. In other words, Customs Brokers cannot employ Customs Clerks. The word “independent” is the key to this.

A Customs Clerk also has power to enter and clear goods or transact other business under the customs Laws for a person meaning one company. So the word independent would be in conflict with the power of a Customs Clerk.

Section 15 in the regulations clearly shows the employees of a Customs Broker to be Apprentices only and section 16 shows that his employees cannot sign customs warrants. This is so as to remain in harmony with the word “Independent”.

The job of a Customs Broker carries a lot of risk when the word independent has been added to it. By being independent, no other person can sign on your behalf. An independent customs Broker is the only person that can sign Customs warrants for the person or persons that he is acting in entering and clearing of goods or other transactions under the Customs Laws.

Now, when a Customs Broker employs any person to assist with his customs duties, he is compelled by regulation 15 to register such person with the Board as an apprentice Broker within seven days of the date of employment.

This Customs Broker apprentice would now be accepted as a candidate for a Customs Broker Examination after three month of employment with the Customs Broker. Section 6 of the Regulation gives that empowerment.

If the Apprentice is successful with the examination the board issues to him a Customs Broker Licence. This is why I said earlier, that an “Independent” Broker faces many risk with employees. Another very important risk to be concern about is section 17 in the regulation.

When a Broker registers an apprentice with the Board, he is in fact entering into a contract with the Board to train his apprentice well, because his apprentice would qualify for a Customs Broker’s Licence at the end of three years training even without the examination.

This system falls in line with section 18 (b) of the Act and section 17 of the regulation. This is known as the apprenticeship scheme.

Many people would want to oppose the Law for the use of the three year apprenticeship scheme, but if you ask me, I would support the law because both the Board and the Association is using the examination as a cover-up in order that people do not become Customs Brokers.

The way in which a Customs Broker examination is set is much too difficult for a grade III, far more for an Apprentice Customs Broker to pass.

Section 6 of the regulation mentions the three months experience of the duties of a Customs Broker. You can only experience the duties of a Customs Broker by being in his employment. Customs clerks by Law cannot be employees of Customs Brokers because of the word “independent”.

The law is the Law and people must comply with the Law or change the Law by legal means. The Board should not be operated on what people feel or think but rather, they should govern the Law as close as possible to the truth. One can get a lot of explanation from the case the Board had in 1995.

Judge Sealy has given a very good and precise explanation. She clearly explained that the qualification to sit any of the Board’s examination the person must be an apprentice to that examination. Yet after thirteen years the Board continues to compel a Grade III to sit an examination he is not apprentice too.

Becoming a Customs Broker in Trinidad and Tobago ought not to be of any Super Human Learning as it is made out to be at present.

To begin with there is no learning institution in Trinidad and Tobago to teach any body to become a Customs Broker. For this very reason, the Board must accept the apprenticeship scheme set out in Section 18 (b) of the Act and regulation 17 and give people their Licence.

On the other hand, to think of the very harsh examination that a Customs Clerk goes through to become a Customs Clerk grade III, I am in disbelief to understand that the Association would not grant a recommendation to obtain a Broker’s Licence even after thirty years requesting. Not withstanding the Law gives a time frame of three years.

Please note here, that the Board has power only over Apprentices of Customs Brokers to Qualify for Customs Brokers licence, whereas the Customs Clerk and Customs Brokers Association has the power over Customs Clerks for qualification of a Customs Brokers licence by way of the recommendation of section 9 of the Act.

In conclusion, Customs Brokers and Customs Clerks are parallel to each other, therefore they cannot work together. However, Customs Brokers can co-operate to form Brokerage Houses.

“CUSTOMS CLERK”

“Customs Clerks” means a person not being a Customs Broker, who being the employee of some other person acts on behalf of that other person in connection with the entering or clearing of goods or other transactions under the Customs Laws.

I do not understand why many people always look for hidden agenda in the reading of laws and believe that only Lawyers and Judges can interpret the law.

The definition of a Customs Clerk clearly state, that a Customs Clerk is not the employee of a Customs Broker. The law goes on to say that the Clerk enters and clears goods for his employer. It also explained the employer must be an importer or exporter of goods.

Another reason why Customs Brokers and Customs Clerks cannot work together in terms of employer/employee relationship is, according to the regulation 15, which states that “where an employer of Customs Clerks employs any person to be trained as a Customs Clerk, he shall register with the Board the name of such trainee within seven days of the date of employment. The Customs Clerk Trainee is now qualified to sit the Grade I examination after three months of employment with the company.

So, what we commonly call a Customs Clerk Apprentice is officially called a Customs Clerk Trainee in the regulation. Like wise to the Customs Broker Apprentice the Customs Clerk trainee cannot sign Customs warrants.

I must reiterate here, that Customs Clerks do not work for Brokerage companies or Brokerage Houses that is not importing or exporting goods. Customs Clerks can only be an employee of a person or company that imports or exports goods because his duties are to enter and clear goods for an on behalf of his employer.

The Customs Clerk Trainee would undergo a similar training program as the Customs Broker Apprentice for a period of three years to qualify for a Customs Clerk Licence. This is known as the “Apprenticeship scheme” and is defined in section 18 (b) of the Act and section 17 of the regulation.

After becoming a Customs Clerk grade I by means of examination, the Clerk is now an apprentice to the Customs Clerk grade II examination as he/she will be performing the duties of a grade II (except signing of Customs warrants). Hence, after becoming a Customs Clerk Grade II by means of examination the said clerk is now an apprentice to the grade III examination.

Having passed the grade III examination the apprenticeship scheme comes to an end. Now that you are a Customs Clerk Grade III, you have achieved the highest level that a Customs Clerk can reach. Since you are not an Apprentice Broker, you would not qualify to sit a Customs Broker examination.

The Act has therefore made provision for a Custom Clerk to become a Customs Broker under section 9 of the Act. However the Clerks referred to in section 9 are Grade I, Grade II and Grade III Customs Clerks. By Law, because of the Apprenticeship scheme, if at the end of the three years the trainee only obtained a grade I or grade II licence, he/she is still entitled to a Customs Brokers Licence.

When considering all this, I fail to understand why the Association is taking ‘donkey years’ to issue a recommendation to Customs Clerks in General and Grade III in particular.

I must add here that I have written this letter with honesty and sincerity of purpose. I hope this would lead to the freedom from the thirty three years bondage endured by Customs Clerks in Trinidad and Tobago.

For those of you who have read this letter, I hope to have given you much valuable information that would inspire you to read the Act and regulation very careful and sincere. In doing so, I will be available to address any concerns or questions that you may have. I can be reached at 684-9143.

May God bless us all.

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