OTTAWA, Ont. — There are many carriers who see AMPS as a federal “money grab,” says a CTA submission to Canadian Customs and Revenue.
The opening sentences of the Canadian Trucking Alliance submission to the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA) on the Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS) pretty much says it all: “There is nothing wrong with AMPS in principle, since the establishment of a consistent, evenly applied penalty structure levels the playing field for those who abide by the rules with those who don’t. But within the carrier community, there are many who remain vehemently opposed to AMPS and believe it is nothing but a ‘money grab’ by the federal government.”
The submission is part of CTA’s contribution to the six-month review of AMPS initiated by revenue minister Elinor Caplan. The minister has promised that there will be changes to the AMPS program which was introduced last year by CCRA and has since been the subject of concern from across the trading community.
Chief amongst CTA’s concerns is the level of the AMPS penalties themselves. CTA “accepts that a penalty structure needs to be in place to encourage compliance and create a level playing field for carriers” but asks “at what point does a penalty become punitive rather than corrective?”
According to CTA, the penalty levels often exceed the entire revenue generated from a trip. The alliance says that the penalty levels seem to be nothing more than someone’s “best guess” as to what is needed for compliance. CTA urges CCRA to experiment with lower penalty amounts to see how or if they impact on compliance.
Another major CTA concern is the relationship between the size of the carrier and its exposure to penalties. High volume carriers have more exposure. “Carriers with thousands of transactions per month, who may be CSA and ISO certified and have made every reasonable effort to comply with the law, will nevertheless be hard hit for simple mistakes.”
CTA proposes that CCRA take a look at some of the safety compliance systems in place (e.g., carrier profiles, safety ratings) which use algorithms to establish thresholds for sanctions based on fleet size or distance traveled.
CTA also takes exception to carriers being assessed AMPS penalties that are beyond their control and really are the fault of the shipper. The alliance calls for more opportunities for carriers to correct errors for incomplete or inaccurate information at the border, in order to avoid an AMPS penalty.
In addition, CTA raises concerns over the level of discretion afforded front line officers, the training the officers receive and regional differences in enforcement policies and practices.
Results of the review by CCRA will be published in the fall of 2003. Minister Caplan has said that changes to AMPS can be made before the end of the review.
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