Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace on Monday called for a prompt investigation into the importation of a vehicle by Comptroller of Customs and Excise Grenville John.
Persons in the vehicle import business have suggested that the Silver 2005 Suzuki Escudo was undervalued by more than 50 per cent, while others have suggested that the vehicle is actually a more recent model.
On Feb. 9, Customs officials gave the vehicle a cost, insurance and freight (CIF) value of US$6,500.
In keeping with John’s grade in the Public Service, he was granted a 75 per cent waiver of import duty, VAT and excise duty on the vehicle.
The fees levied were based on a bill of sight, rather than an invoice.
John has said that he was not granted any special favours. However, questions are being asked regarding why a bill of sight, rather than an invoice was used to clear the vehicle.
And while John says that an invoice is not necessary, documents from the department say that importers must present invoices when clearing items at Customs.
“I expect that action would be taken on that matter after the necessary investigation have been completed,” Eustace said Monday on his weekly radio programme.
“I want to see that matter dealt with promptly. The Customs is responsible for the bulk of the revenue that comes to this country…
“And that post is critical post…” he said of the office of the Comptroller of Customs.
“We cannot afford at this time to have those kinds of allegations made,” he said.
Eustace said St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been having “a lot of fiscal problems” and said the story about the vehicle is “most unbecoming”.
He said that in light of this, he is asking that the government and the relevant authorities conduct a proper investigation, and the necessary action be taken to deal with this matter.
“I’m not joking about this. It is a serious matter that should be properly investigated so that there is no doubt, and [if] we have any evidence then that evidence must be dealt with promptly,” Eustace said.