Saturday, March 20, 2010

Customs stalling aid efforts in Haiti - Haiti -

Customs stalling aid efforts in Haiti - Haiti -
"``These are vehicles Haiti has never seen the likes of, and it's unconscionable that this is happening,'' said Granted Wish chairman Rodney Napier, a part-time Miami Beach resident. ``We believe they are expecting us to slip them money to make this go away.''"

At the heart of the issue is that the goods were being shipped to a person, not an NGO.

"The Haitian government insists the organization has to pay customs taxes because the shipment arrived in the name of a private individual, not a certified aid group. Granted Wish says they initially sent the delivery in the name Double Harvest, a certified non-profit organization registered by the Haitian government, but was told by Customs that things would go more smoothly if the shipment were in the name of a Haitian citizen.

``I obey and apply the law; I do not interpret it,'' said Eric Charles, director of port customs. ``If the vehicles were in the names of U.S. AID, Food for the Poor, or some other group, they would be out in five minutes." I am not the Ministry of Finance. I am not the president. We have no provisions in the customs tariffs to give him an exception.''

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