I got a gift from US, why am I being charged high ‘custom duty’ in Jamaica?

QUESTION: Dear Legal Wiz,
I love your question and answer sessions on your site. Can you help me with my problem?
My uncle sent me a Blackberry phone and I had to go to the post office to collect it. When I went there they told me I had to pay approximately J$35,000 for the phone. I told them it was a gift, and they said it didnt matter. After I begged them and explained that I had no money they worked out a reduced sum and only took off J$5,000. Why are they charging me so much money to get a gift. At this rate it seems its better to buy the Blackberry in Jamaica. I feel like stealing.
Your fan,

RESPONSE, Dear Gary,

Do not be tempted to steal. It can be very hard sometimes, but do not steal. Next time ask your uncle to send gifts like that with someone flying in, or simply send something cheaper because you have no money. Unless he expects you to sell it, buy something cheaper and use the rest of the money on say FOOD. Still thanks for writing in and communicating with us. Now, please allow me to explain a few things to you based on an interview with a few customs officers.

Charging on imported items is another way any country earns money. In Jamaica the customs system is based on standards set by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

All duties and taxes are fixed by Policy Decisions she emphasises. These includes Import Duty, General Consumption Tax (GCT), Customs User Fee (CUF), Environmental Levy and any other tax applicable.

Remember that storage is another fee imposed, but not by customs. Storage and storage fees comes under the portfolio of the entity, which is the holding area at all points of entry and warehouses, such as the post office. The storage charge is usually calculated daily and worked out after the allowed grace period and varies according to port of entry.

Read further on How, Why we are charged customs duty in Jamaica on imports?

Legal Wiz