Federal spending cuts will delay box inspections, warns US Customs

March 6, 2013 — Leave a comment
"Uncertain Times" - U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said earlier this week that her department would be slashing 5,000 border-patrol agents when the cuts go through, which would ultimately slow some of the busiest crossings between Canada and the U.S.

“Uncertain Times” – U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said earlier this week that her department would be slashing 5,000 border-patrol agents when the cuts go through, which would ultimately slow some of the busiest crossings between Canada and the U.S.

Is this a process of auto-destabilisation in the USA? At least terrorists aren’t being blamed for this……will be interesting to see what instructions are fed to CBP (US Customs) Field Operations in foreign countries where the Megaports and CSI initiatives are in operation. Besides being grave times , I’d say these are interesting times…

Lloyds reports that the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is warning of major delays for incoming containers and other cargo at seaports because of sequestration, but early reports suggest that business is operating normally on arterial waterfronts, at least for now.

In a letter to cargo and travel industry groups after automatic cuts to federal spending, known as sequester cuts or sequestration, went into effect at the weekend, CBP deputy commissioner David Aguilar said the agency faced “furloughs, reductions in overtime and a hiring freeze, [which] would equate to the loss of up to several thousand CBP officers at our ports of entry, in addition to significant cuts to our operating budgets and programmes”.

Describing the current phase as an “uncertain time”, Aguilar warned of major disruption for travellers and cargo.

For the latter, sequestration could result in “decreased service levels in our cargo operations, including increased and potentially escalating delays for container examinations of up to five days or more at major seaports, and significant daily back-ups at land border ports of entry”.

CBP also issued a set of “cargo priorities under sequestration”, which vowed that security would not be compromised, but said that “CBP has redirected resources toward only the most critical, core functions and discontinued or postponed certain important but less critical activities in an effort to reduce budget expenditures”.

The agency said it would hold weekly conference calls to update the industry about the situation.

Shippers and cargo interests agreed that five-day delays could cause major bottlenecks at container ports, and would cost shippers extra money during an already challenging economic time.

The only consolation would be that individual ports or shippers would not have to worry about rival ports siphoning business away, because every US port would be up against the same problem.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey reported normal operations and said in a statement that it continued to monitor the situation.

New Jersey governor Chris Christie appeared unimpressed with the threat attributed to sequestration.

“I do not think sequestration at one cent on the dollar is going to have grave effect, or anybody is going to notice it all that much, except for some federal employees who will be furloughed,” He told a press conference.

The sequester cuts $85 billion, or 2.4% of the annual federal budget of $3.6 trillion, to be spread over seven months to September 30.

Roughly half the sum involves defence, and there appears to be discretion in where precisely the cuts are administered.

Nevertheless, the shipping industry is taking the matter seriously. Other than cargo delays, the maritime sector is factoring in reduced maintenance dredging and a degradation of some US Coast Guard functions, including search and rescue, as possible effects of the sequester cuts. Source: LloydsList

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