There are certain companies whose containers do not go through routine Customs inspections upon arrival in Samoa.
These companies are on the Ministry of Revenue’s “Green Lane” list.
It means their shipments are “prepaid” and the companies get their containers right away.
This was confirmed by the Minister of Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, in response to questions from the Samoa Observer.
The Minister was asked for a comment about concerns expressed that some containers are not checked at the wharf.
According to the Minister, the practice is the result of their mutual working relationship with the private sector. He explained the practice had been in place long before he was appointed to the post.
“This is based on the trust we have for these companies. “These companies prepays their tax duties and they are honest with the invoices submitted, to customs so their shipments are released immediately,” said Tialavea.
“But at the same time, the customs conduct spot checks. However if a company is not being honest, then they will be taken off the list and their shipments will be checked all the time.”
Asked how many companies are on the “Green Lane List,” the Minister was not sure.
“I do not know. They [customs] just told me about this system and I said continue on with it.
“However there are times, the operation of [Green Lane] list is temporarily halted, if the spot checks uncover anything that is not declared on the invoice, then the next shipment the customs officers will conduct a thorough inspection.”
Asked if the government would reconsider such a list given concerns expressed about its legitimacy, he said: “The relationship with the private sector is important to me and as much as we want every company to undergo inspections but the companies want their shipment to be released as soon as possible.
“Once its sold, the taxes come back to us. But that does not mean that they are not paying their taxes.
“No, they are paying their taxes.”
The Minister also revealed that the government is ordering cargo x-ray scanner for containers.
“Once those arrive, all the containers will go through inspection by Customs,” he said.
“In the meantime, if we check each and every container that comes into the Port, this will delay the release of company goods.
The Minister applauded his “predecessors for initiating this system which benefits everyone.”