Nassau, The Bahamas – Former Comptroller of Customs Mr. John Rolle confirmed to The Bahama Journal that not only were the actions of Minister Zharvigo Laing unusual, but illegal. Minister Laing has come under attack in the House of Assembly by PLP St. Thomas More MP Frank Smith for his involvement in reducing the rate for a drink ‘Mona Vie’. Minister Laing’s brother made the initial inquiry on the tax paid on the drink. The drink is sold by Laing’s sister-in-law Monique Laing.
“I don’t know why this is highlighted as a special incident because it is normal for [the Department of Customs] on a daily basis to refer to the tariff and the coding for any and every product. The law as it is permits the individual, the importer, to make a declaration and the customs department verifies what the whole transaction is all about making sure it fits into the law and collects the necessary taxes,” Mr. Rolle told the Journal.
But Mr. Rolle explained, “There is a procedure where [importers] for years sometimes do not pay the correct rate and when we (the Department of Customs) become aware of it then we by law have the authority to go back two years and assess the correct amount. The procedure is that based on the law we are supposed to collect the exact amount – not more; not less. In the event where we collect an excess amount, the same law forbids us from keeping that. And so [customs] in the meantime would refund the monies to the individual.
“For someone to try to say that that process changes the rate in the middle of the year, I find that quite disappointing.”
Like the message given to Parliament by Prime Minister that ‘ONLY’ Parliament can transfer Crown Land. Mr. Rolle confirmed that only Parliament can change the customs rate.
Members of the Progressive Liberal Party have asked for Mr. Laing to come clean on the matter, Laing has made two contributions to Parliament on the matter, however this latest revelation by former Comptroller sends speculations about the future of the Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance Zharvigo Laing.