Friday 23 August, 2019

Imbert clears air on importation of prohibited items

Finance Minister Colm Imbert says he has taken note of recent commentary on the importation of certain items into Trinidad and Tobago and the mistaken belief that these import-restrictions have only recently occurred.

In a statement issued on Monday evening, Imbert spoke about the agricultural sector in which he said some persons are of the view that permits have never been required for the importation of seeds and that the requirement for a permit is something new, intended to force farmers to buy seeds from local suppliers.

He said, however, that this is not the case.

“For the record, Section 3 of the Plant Protection Act states that "no person shall import into Trinidad and Tobago any fruits, planting material, plant pest, pathogens, plant products; soil, vegetables or any other prescribed articles (hereinafter referred to as "restricted articles") unless he first obtains a permit in accordance with the provisions of this Act or the regulations".”

Imbert said this section of the law has been in force since July 1975.

“He added that the Plant Protection Act in its Interpretation Section clarifies that "planting material includes buds, bulbs, cuttings, grafts, roots, acorns, seeds, shrubs, trees, vines and any other part of a plant capable of propagation".”

He said the reason for this law is demonstrated in the title of the Plant Protection Act which was enacted "for the control of diseases and pests injurious to plants".

He said as such, a permit has been required for the importation of seeds for the last 43 years and the Customs and Excise Division is simply continuing to enforce a law that has been in force since 1975.

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