Thursday, August 27, 2009

Row Breaks Out over US and Canadian Customs Freight Checkpoints

Criticism of Funding for Border Controls
Shipping News Feature

US – CANADA – MEXICO A major row has broken out in Washington over the apparent inequalities surrounding financing for the new upgrades to US borders into Canada and Mexico. Accusations of favouritism are rife as details of how the $720 million, awarded under President Obama’s economic stimulus plans, will be spent.

The funding discrepancies are considered so serious that the House Oversight committee is to investigate the spending. Examples mooted as “unusual” are the fact that the Laredo, Texas checkpoint, which sees 4,200 trucks a day transit between the US and Mexico, representing $116 billion of goods moved, and which was rated by the Governments own figures as “a high priority case for investment” will receive none of the monetary package. Meanwhile the Canadian crossing at Whitetail, Montana (population 71) which saw less than $70,000 in freight traffic last year, is to receive $15 million for renovation works.

The main complaint is the reluctance of officials to discuss how the dispersal of the money has been arrived at. The inference is that politicians are using the money to curry favour amongst their own local voters. One border station in Arizona, home to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, responsible for the disbursement of the fund, will receive $199 million and Westhope, North Dakota serving a handful of commercial traffic daily will get $15 million.

The argument that the schemes will produce employment also seems to fail when one considers that Whitetail, with its 71 inhabitants, has an unemployment rate of less than 4%. In Laredo by comparison that figure is close to 9.5%.