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Customs facing security challenges, revenue loss – Wade Smith

- Makes bid for $1.1M; says Intelligence Unit slated for 2014
A lack of proper accommodation at Ports of Entry in the Virgin Islands (VI) has reportedly created major challenges for the Customs Department, according to the Standing Finance Committee (SFC) report. Photo: VINO
During deliberations for the 2014 Budget Estimates, Commissioner of Customs, Mr Wade Smith said the challenges had posed many concerns such as substantial revenue loss, inability to properly profile and target passengers, and the safety for arriving passengers and Government personnel. Photo: VINO
During deliberations for the 2014 Budget Estimates, Commissioner of Customs, Mr Wade Smith said the challenges had posed many concerns such as substantial revenue loss, inability to properly profile and target passengers, and the safety for arriving passengers and Government personnel. Photo: VINO
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – A lack of proper accommodation at Ports of Entry in the Virgin Islands (VI) has reportedly created major challenges for the Customs Department, according to the Standing Finance Committee (SFC) report.

During deliberations for the 2014 Budget Estimates, Commissioner of Customs, Mr Wade Smith said the challenges had posed many concerns such as substantial revenue loss, inability to properly profile and target passengers, and the safety for arriving passengers and Government personnel.

Smith further related that the lack of proper accommodation at the Road Town Station had created a major challenge for Immigration and Customs Officers specifically as it related to incoming passengers being able to interact with outgoing passengers while clearing Immigration and Customs.

According to the Commissioner, the baggage areas at all Ports of Entry were too small to accommodate the flow of arriving passengers, and the Ports Authority had made some changes which had assisted in providing short-term remedies.

The Department, he advised, had continued to utilise human resources from within to fill vacancies and he noted that five (5) current employees had been promoted in 2013 which included confirmation to Senior Customs Officer posts. Smith told the SFC that none of the employees had been in an acting position for more than one year.

In reference to a large number of retirees, he stressed the importance of the Department continuing to prepare for these voids to be filled and to ensure that financial resources were in place to train officers.

He added that, though they were challenged with a shortage of staff, they would continue to make the necessary sacrifices for all of the employees to further their education.

According to Smith, nine (9) Customs Officers were studying at H. Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC) and two were studying in the United Kingdom (UK), one of whom was studying law with the hope of returning to the Department.

Intelligence Unit

The Commissioner further stated that the Department would continue to fight against transnational crime. He informed the Committee that one of the goals for 2014 would be the development of an Intelligence Unit to gather and disseminate information locally and internationally on developing trends and challenges.

The enforcement arm of Customs, he said, had faced many challenges as a result of the global economic downturn which had resulted in an increase in drugs and human trafficking, weapon smuggling, smuggling of commercial goods, bulk cash smuggling, and counterfeit medicine and products.

Smith told the Committee that the Territory could not afford to have a compromised security, and made an appeal for an additional $200,000.00 and have the budget remain the same prior to the reduction.

He also stated that the VI had been selected to host the Annual International Customs Sports Tournament, and updated the Committee about this event. He made a request for $300,000.00 to aid in hosting this event and an additional $600,000.00 to commence the works of the Multi-Agency Complex.

8 Responses to “Customs facing security challenges, revenue loss – Wade Smith”

  • Thing to talk (24/02/2014, 15:43) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Hmmmmm I wonder
  • in the news (24/02/2014, 15:51) Like (12) Dislike (2) Reply
    wade for the 5th district
  • It's time. (24/02/2014, 22:21) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
    Wade the people need you!
  • Shorty (25/02/2014, 12:10) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    The best approach to tackle staff shortage is to merge both Immigration and Customs together thus having ample staff to rotate accordingly. Both departments need one standard uniform and have all staff trained in both customs and immigration duties. Call it Virgin Islands boarder protection unit/Department. I think it is time for us to work effectively and efficiently in the public service and merge some departments specifically customs and immigration who handles or boarders to get the best results.
  • VG (25/02/2014, 12:13) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    You can collect more money if you fix the credit and debit card machine at VG dock. It's been down for a year or more.
  • Drain (26/02/2014, 09:35) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Maybe it's time to rethink the entire Customs and Duty scene. Scrap Customs! Local business ought to be able to better compete with other duty-free ports, such as St. Thomas and Sint Maarten. It's high time to cut the drain on local business and make imports duty free for resale by properly licensed firms.
    For that matter, let's make the immigration and customs procedure at the ferry docks less of a pain in the –––. It's almost like the customs officers are grubbing for the last cent, as if the government is going to go broke without that last nickel (or the officer's bonus depends on it!). It's insulting. The so-called "Nothing to declare" line is nonsense, it means absolutely nothing.


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