Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Chris Sinckler

Local and regional customs officers have been lauded for their hard work and dedication in protecting national borders.

The accolades have come from Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Chris Sinckler, as he delivered the feature address at the opening of the Caribbean Customs Sports Tournament last Thursday at the Concorde Experience, Christ Church.

He told the audience "it is needless to say that the hard work of customs officers, acting in their capacity as public servants and the invaluable contribution which they make to the development of Caribbean economies have not gone unnoticed.

"Governments across the region are well aware that with small vulnerable economies, trade is at the centre of our economic development and as such, the vital role that customs personnel play is facilitated especially in ensuring that the mechanisms required are efficiently operated."

Mr. Sinckler added that the work which customs officers executed in the performance of their duties and the contribution made to the trading system was "commendable". Although, he admitted that as a result of world trends, this might result in them having to work even harder than they had done in the past.

The Economic Affairs Minister revealed that the increase in global trade, along with the movement of people, presented myriad challenges to customs authorities across the world, necessitating changes to "both the philosophical outlook and operational character of customs law and administration across the globe.

"And such changes have unfolded in a way that have conditioned the manner in which countries interact with each other on an array of issues of public import. Of course, principal among these is the way in which respected border security operations structure their national operations to instill international best practice in dealing with the most egregious and nefarious elements of the organised criminal dispensation. Waging models of sophistication and dogged determination to breach our border security are placing fragile systems under severe pressure," he stated.

Bearing this in mind, the Finance Minister advocated the need for "even more rigorous training" for the public officers, since it was imperative that customs officers and authorities were equipped with the requisite modern techniques and tools to empower them to reduce congestion at the borders. He also said that customs officers needed to interact and to communicate with each other in real time through such avenues as teleconferencing and social media.

Mr. Sinckler however, conceded that any changes would not be on the same level as industrialised nations, because of economic constraints. "It, therefore, means, that the challenges which you as customs officers face as our first line of defence in protecting the national and regional character will be amplified times over even as ordinary Caribbean citizens demand the highest level of engagement from your authorities," he underlined.


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