By CHESTER ROBARDS
A JUICE classification error at importation has left Bahamas Food Services (BFS), arguably this nation’s leading food wholesaler, with a hefty Customs duty bill that sources say borders on a six-figure sum.
Don Carnine, Bahamas Food Services (BFS) general manager, yesterday confirmed that the wholesale food distributor racked up a large import duty bill after the Customs Department found that a juice it was importing was improperly classified, leaving them paying less than they should.
Now, the company has been forced to correct the error by paying the extra duties on the past imports.
Mr Carnine said the juice’s classification had been under investigation for almost one year. Tribune Business was not told what kind of juice caused the problem.
Mr Carnine said his company had since developed a payment plan to bring the bill to a zero balance.
“We are on a payment schedule with them, and an agreement that is in place,” he said. “It is just a normal business transaction between us.”
Comptroller of Customs, Glenn Gomez, said the Customs Department had become much more vigilant in looking for small errors on importation documentation, which could ultimately cost the Government thousands of dollars if allowed to persist for a long period of time.
Mr Gomez said BFS’s juice query was taken all the way to the World Customs Organisation in Brussels, in order to properly classify the juice and ensure the correct duties were paid.
According to Mr Gomez, post-importation checks were not done regularly at the department in the past. However, he said they are being done much more often to prevent the fate that befell BFS.
He said people often try to falsely classify commodities in order to pay lower duties on them, which could be overlooked by Customs officials bogged down with long lines. There is nothing to suggest, though, that this happened in BFS’s case.
He added that the post-importation checks reduce the risk of the Customs Department losing revenues in this way.
“It’s a part of being more vigilant, but should have been happening all along,” said Mr Gomez.
“They had relaxed doing it over the past several years, but we instituted that it be done much more often.”