PM Douglas says Customs and Excise Department making important strides

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, JANUARY 21ST 2013 (CUSTOMS) – The St. Kitts and Nevis Customs and Excise Department continues to make important strides in the development and implementation of innovative policies and practices as well as the introduction of innovative technologies to improve the Customs operations in the twin-island Federation.

Delivering remarks to officially declare a week of activities open in celebration of International Customs Day, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L, Douglas told the congregation at the Co-Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception that the selection of this year’s theme provides an opportunity for Customs organizations and their partners around the world to share information on innovative ideas and practices, to forge new partnerships, as well as the promotion of new solutions and technologies that will help to improve the delivery of critical services in their respective territories.

St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas (7th fom left); Comptroller of Customs, Mr. Rodney Harris (6th from left) and Deputy Comptroller of Customs, Mr. Georid Belle (8th from left) along with other Customs Officers and employees. (Photo by Erasmus Williams)

“This year’s theme is consistent with my Government’s efforts to reform the public service, and aptly aligned with the on-going innovations in our very own Customs and Exercise Department,” said Prime Minister Douglas.

He pointed to extensive work that has been completed with respect to the development of new customs legislation, the introduction of a modern staff appraisal system, paperless internal communications system, continuous in-service training using internal and external training modalities and the maintenance of a robust internship programme which resulted in over 50 young people gaining exposure to the world of work under this initiative in 2012.

“Some of the recent innovations in Customs operations include the strengthening of enforcement by the creation of a Marine Unit and a Canine Unit, new focus on customer service and information dissemination, improved partnership with the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, brokers and other private sector stakeholders, and the Ports Authority,” said Prime Minister Douglas.

He stressed that these partnerships are already yielding benefits and the Ministry of Finance and the Customs and Excise Department are particularly pleased with the results of the primary-secondary passenger processing initiative which improves passenger profiling and decreases the time waiting in line at the airports.

“Customs is fast becoming a leader in using innovations in technology to build efficiency in service delivery. The Customs Website is supported by a highly reliable search engine that helps to take the guesswork out of valuing imports by the ordinary citizen. With the introduction of ASYCUDA and a one window concept, in 2013, importers will see a notable reduction in the time spent clearing their imported goods,” said Prime Minister Douglas.

In celebrating another year of achievements with the men and women who serve as Customs Officers in the Federation and across the globe, Dr. Douglas noted that it is becoming a well-established tradition for the local Customs and Excise Department to celebrate the International Customs Day.

International Customs Day is celebrated by members of the World Custom Organisation each year on January 26. Here in St. Kitts and Nevis the Ministries of Finance and more specifically the Customs Departments on both islands will celebrate a full week of activities from 20th to 26th January, 2013. The World Customs Organisation has dedicated 2013 to the promotion of innovation with the theme “Innovation for Customs Progress.”

In saluting the customs officers, Prime Minister Douglas invited all citizens and residents to take advantage of the opportunities to recognize the important work carried out each day by the Officers and the Department’s steadfast commitment against all forms of illegal trade and maintenance of the revenue collection function of the Government.

He lauded the exemplary work of the Officers as they work every day to keep St. Kitts and Nevis safe and its borders secure.

“Our Customs Officers do valuable work, perform an important public service and their dedication is appreciated by the Ministry of Finance, the Government and the Nation,” said Prime Minister Douglas.

The service, which was conducted by Father Vicente was attended by Mrs. Hillary Hazel, Financial Secretary; Mr. Elvis Newton, Head of the Public Service; Mr. Rodney Harris, Comptroller of Customs; Lt. Colonel Patrick Wallace, Commander – St. Kitts and Nevis Defence Force; Mr. Georid Belle, Deputy Comptroller of Customs and scores of Customs Officers.

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