Dissatisfaction at Customs

Tension is said to be rising high within the Customs Division of the Ministry of Finance over a number of proposed appointments to middle level and senior positions.

An authoritative source told THE NEW TODAY that some Custom Officers might be seeking legal redress over the impending changes at the Division that is headed by Comptroller of Customs, Carl Felix.

He said the appointment that is considered most controversial is the elevation of a junior officer to become a Supervisor of Customs.

According to the official, the individual is from the St. George North-west constituency of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell and is a close relative of Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Timothy Antoine.

“She should not  be made a Supervisor. There are several other persons who are more qualified than her, they have first degrees and imagine they were overlooked for promotion.

He said the female officer would often boast at the work place of her family ties to Antoine and would frequently refer to Prime Minister Mitchell as “her father”.

There is no doubt about it that she is NNP to the bone”, remarked the official.

In addition, he said what makes the recommendation very offensive is the fact that the person being proposed for appointment as a Supervisor is only an ordinary Custom Officer at the airport.

He spoke of the individual being leap-frogged over a number of Senior Customs Officers and also a few Acting Supervisors at the department.

He pointed to a number of more qualified officers who were overlooked for the vacant post of Supervisor such as Paul Jeremiah, Portia Fraser, Rennie Parkes, and Ezra Gilbert – most of them who have first degrees on their CV’s.

The official also referred to the case of Algernon Belfon who is only an Acting Senior Customs Officer but was also recommended for one of the vacant post of Supervisor at Customs over others who are higher in rank to him such as Alistair Boatswain and Eric Thomas.

According to the official,  Felix was confronted over the pending appointments that were sent to the Public Service Commission (PSC) for ratification but indicated that he had nothing to do with it.

He reportedly said that the appointments were made by people within the Ministry of Finance and not by him.

If that was the case, the official said that Felix should have objected on the grounds that he is in charge of the Department and is in a far better position than anyone in the Ministry of Finance to make the recommendations for promotion to the vacant positions.

THE NEW TODAY understands that the proposed appointments should have come up for discussion at Monday’s weekly meeting of the commission that is headed by attorney-at-law, Derek Sylvester.

There are also three other top vacancies to be filled in Customs in light of the retirements of two Deputy Comptrollers of Customs, Eric Charles and Solomon Grainger, as well as the transfer from the department of Lyndonna Marshall.

According to the official, the names submitted to the PSC to fill the vacancies are Shane Derby, Carville Lett and Michael Gibbs. This newspaper understands that Derby has a first degree and Lett is the holder of a Master’s Degree.

He felt that Senior Customs Officer, Brian Joseph who is on Special Assignment in the Office of the Prime Minister should have been considered for one of the vacant positions of Deputy Comptroller of Customs.

He also mentioned the specific case of Jeremiah who is qualified with a Master’s degree and whose name should have also been included in the mix to become a Deputy Comptroller.

He said the often outspoken Jeremiah had submitted his name for promotion to fill the vacant post of Deputy Comptroller of Customs when Grainger retired but his letter was kept within the confines of Customs and never sent down to the PSC for consideration.

The official said that there is a lot of dissatisfaction currently at the Customs Division  which is a key area for collecting Government revenue.

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