PM Douglas says new system must not compromise national security; Initiative dovetails with Government’s vision, says Skerritt

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, DECEMBER 13TH 2011 (CUOPM) – National security interests must never be compromised with the introduction of new Customs procedures implemented for passengers existing the arrivals hall.

(left to right) – Mr. Ken Da Silva; Deputy Comptroller of Customs, Mr. Georid Belle; Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas; Financial Secretary, Mrs. Janet Harris and Comptroller of Customs as PM Douglas and Mrs. Harris cut the ribbon. (Photo by Erasmus Williams)

St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas speaking briefing at a ribbon cutting ceremony said local residents returning after shopping and business abroad will almost have hassle-free movement unless they are considered a risk.

“For the local residents, the returning national and the visitor will experience improved efficiency as a result of the new system being provided,” said Dr. Douglas, who commended the Comptroller of Customs, Mr. Rodney Harris and his management team.

Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Sen. the Hon. Richard Skerritt noted that travel has become a fairly tedious exercise for passengers since 911.

“Leaving a country involves a number of security measures and security checks. That is why in St. Kitts and Nevis, we want to make the process of entering our country as comfortable and as world-class as possible, without compromising any security and border-type requirements,” said Skerritt.

“The truth is passengers should be dealt with on a risk basis and the vast majority of passengers travelling to our country are not high-risk passengers. It is in our interest to make sure that returning nationals and visitors can feel as welcome and as hassle-free as possible on their way into our country,” said Minister Skerritt, who added that this modernized version of processing passengers into the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport will help to achieve that while allowing Customs to focus on the risk where the risk really is in terms of revenue collection and security.

Skerritt said it was a welcome development for St. Kitts and Nevis noting that since 911, travel has become a fairly tedious exercise. Leaving a country involves a number of security measures and security checks.

“That is why in St. Kitts and Nevis, we want to make the process of entering our country as comfortable and as world-class as possible without compromising any security and border-type requirements. The truth is passengers should be dealt with on a risk basis and the vast majority of passengers travelling to our country are not high-risk passengers. It is in our interest to make sure that returning nationals and visitors can feel as welcome and as hassle-free as possible on their way in to our country. This modernized version of processing passengers into our airport will help to achieve that while allowing Customs to focus on the risk where the risk really is in terms of revenue and security,” Minister Skerritt said.

He added that the new Customs initiative dovetails with the Government’s vision for St. Kitts and Nevis.

“This is an improvement for travel and tourism into our country. This is a small island and we simply cannot survive as an economy without people moving into and out of our island usually by aircraft and to a lesser extent by cruise ships. On the cruise ships, Customs and Immigration are already extremely very liberal and modern in the processing of large volumes of passengers off a cruise ship,” Minister Skerritt pointed out.

He said the new system is a step in the right direction because it seeks to do the same with large volumes of passengers coming off airplanes without losing the focus on the roles and responsibility of Customs.

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