Message by Acting Comptroller of Customs Joseph Best for Customs International Day 2009

January 26, 2009 has been designated as International Customs Day by the World Customs Organisation (WCO).

The focus for this year is “Customs and the Environment: Protecting our Natural heritage”.
The Customs and Excise Department in Barbados is the leading government revenue collection agency. It also has a critical role to play in the protection of our borders. Border protection has significant implications for the protection of the society. It relates not only to the movement of firearms, ammunition, illicit drugs but also to illicit trade in environmentally sensitive commodities such as hazardous and other waste, chemical weapons and endangered fauna and flora.

The Secretary General of the World Customs Organisation of which Barbados is a member noted that “given the importance now attached to environmental issues by the entire international community, I have decided to dedicate international Customs Day to the environment with the theme Customs and the environment; protecting our natural heritage”.

Barbados Customs & Excise Department therefore joins with the other Customs administrations worldwide in observing this day. It is recognized that the protection of the environment is of such paramount importance that it cannot be overstated and the Barbados Customs deems it an opportunity and indeed a responsibility to contribute to this objective.

Today, as trade facilitation is encouraged and Customs administrations provide for the expedited clearance of legitimate goods, some delinquent traders will seek to infiltrate these measures for their own self-seeking purposes. The categorizing of countries as suppliers, consumers or transit points can no longer be seen as a strategy to address the problem because of the close interrelationship, entanglement and complexity of the methods employed by the perpetrators.

Law enforcement agencies including the Customs Department are now mandated to use other enforcement methodologies which have proven to be successful in containing the flow of these substances.

The Customs and Excise Department has been working over time with the Ministry of Environment and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in sensitising its officers on these chemicals and providing training to ensure that officers can identify and detect such chemicals. The goal of the department is to ensure that that entry and exit into Barbados of these commodities are properly monitored.

The department also works closely with a number of other government ministries and departments in the monitoring and controlling of restricted and prohibited goods. It has been recognized that to fight this illegal trade, cooperation at all levels of society is necessary. The involvement of national organizations as well as cooperation at the regional, hemispheric and global levels must combine their efforts to counteract cross- border environmental offences. The zero tolerance for offenders must be in place and should be on going, given the very detrimental nature of this matter.

The Department recognises that training and retraining of officers to keep abreast of current and evolving trends and to remain on the cutting edge in this fight against these environmental hazards must continue.

To mark the occasion of International Customs Day the department will award certificates to a number of its officers who have demonstrated their dedication to environmental protection.

We wish to thank those in society who have assisted the Barbados Customs and Excise Department in achieving its goals and wish that such assistance will continue not only on International Customs Day but at all times.

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