CUSTOMS OFFICIALS, INDUSTRY CONCERNED OVER LAGGING COBRA FEES
An official from the U.S. Customs Service said Monday the agency has seen a substantial decline in cargo and passenger processing fees through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act.
Carol Dunham, executive director of budget for Customs, said processing fees on cargo and passenger collected through COBRA for fiscal year 2002 are projected at $267 million, down from $305 million in fiscal 2001.
Customs' Deputy Commissioner Douglas Browning and trade representatives said they would seek Congressional support to cover costs for inspection services after the collection program ends in September 2003.
In 1986, Congress authorized COBRA fees to enable Customs to fund additional positions in core accommodations in growth in trade and travel.
“We have supported it since its creation in 1986, and we will continue to support it,” said Barbara Kostuk, director of federal affairs and facilitation of the American Transport Association.
Browning said he expects inspection processing time to improve at ports of entry, as Customs is preparing to station more inspectors nationwide.
“I think you are going to see an easing of that,” Browning said of delays and congestion for inspections.