5 June 2013

Aquatic industry voice OATA is calling for the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratory Agency (AHVLA) to come up with a Customer Charter after introducing higher fees for its work.

New charges for importers of live fish come into force on June 24th after a long consultation by the AHVLA. But OATA, which has spent the last year questioning the new fee levels to be set, says the charges are still high when the process of releasing consignments of fish can be so variable.

And it is now pressing for the government agency to set standards of service that companies can expect when their shipments come into border inspection posts at UK airports.

AHVLA has now revealed it will charge a £40 fee per import CVED licence, which compares to the current £6.60p from June which will rise to £74 in April next year. This is lower that the charges first proposed of £48.71 per CVED import licence from October 2012 rising to £73.52 from April 2013.

“We’ve spent a considerable time questioning the AHVLA about how it came up with the first set of charges. The idea behind this rise is ‘full cost recovery’ so we’ve been pressing for information on exactly how the costs involved in this service have been calculated to make sure the industry was being asked to pay a fair price for the service it gets,” said OATA’s Chief Executive Keith Davenport.

“We’re pleased that during this time we’ve managed to keep the industry from paying the increased charges which should have been introduced in October last year. We estimate that from October 2012 to April 2014 – when the next review is due – we will have saved companies more than £450,000. But the new £40 charge – while still lower than first proposed – is still six times what companies are paying now, which is quite a hike to bring in with just a month’s notice. Companies really need more time to plan for how they will find these extra costs.

“And our biggest concern remains the extremely variable service that importers get at border inspection posts at UK airports. If AHVLA wants to go down the route of full cost recovery then it needs to set service standards for its work.

“Companies have no choice but to use AHVLA yet there is no laid-down set of expectations of the service they will get when their imports arrive at an airport. Customer Charters or service standards are an accepted part of business – even within the public sector – so we are now pressing for AHVLA to come up with one of its own that importers can hold its staff to.

“We are part of the stakeholder group that AHVLA has created and we will use this opportunity to discuss these issues further.”