The 22 new Customs graduates in Grand Bahama became a part of the first group of recruits to be the beneficiaries of a $16.5 million loan agreement between the Government of The Bahamas and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), according to Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie.Speaking to the graduating class of Grand Bahama’s Customs recruits on Wednesday, March 15, at the Bahamas Union of Teachers Hall, Prime Minister Christie pointed out that the Loan Agreement has three main components: (i) to improve the facilitation of trade, (ii) collect revenue, and (iii) improve border protection.As a result, the new recruits will be immersed into a Modernized Customs Organization with improved border protection, enforcement, and Electronic Single Window (which began February 1, 2017) & System Automation.
The new recruits will also be a part of the enhancement of International Trade Institutional Platform.“Recruits, you are about to enter into the practical environment of a noble and dynamic organization that was established on 21st March 1914,” the Prime Minister told the new recruits. “This Department has ever since been an evolving and progressive one, and is fast becoming one of the most modern Customs Administrations in this region. It is imperative that you, our new recruits, join in this movement to assist in this enterprising institution. “All of these improvements are conducive to optimum performance and to catapult you towards great achievements in the performance of your duties. You are expected to play a great role in the implementation of the Single Window, as the Department moves towards a fully automated Organization. “A contract, valued at 8 million dollars has been signed with Crimson Logic, a company based in Panama and headquartered in Singapore. It is expected that some of you, with information technology background, will find yourselves becoming fully involved in this process.”
Prime Minister Christie noted that the Electronic Single Window will provide benefits for external stakeholders which will include significant reduced complexities, faster clearance times, greater transparency, greater predictability and provide more efficient deployment of resources.The ESW will also benefit the government with improved compliance, use of sophisticated risk management, more efficient access to trade and related information and more efficient and accurate collection of the revenue. “All processes will be electronically submitted and you are expected to be trained in all aspects of this service,” noted Prime Minister Christie. “In fact, $500,000 have been allocated for training by experts from the World Customs Organization (WCO).”
The Prime Minister told the new recruits about new and improved sections within the Customs Department, of which they are expected to be an integral part. They include the Post Clearance Audit Section, a marine division, the K-9 Unit, the Recourse Section, Intellectual Property Rights, Advanced Rulings, Currency Declaration and Transfers to Family Islands. “Recruits, please be reminded of the major role the Customs Department plays in the economy of The Bahamas,” said Prime Minister Christie.“Almost 60% of Government’s revenue and taxes are to be collected by you. You need to be very conscious that the Customs Department is not the Customs Department of 1914 when the Department was established. “It is not the Customs Department of the 1950s and 60’s when entries were hand written and values were placed on imported items with very little or no idea of their real costs. It is not the Customs Department where the duty office was armed with only a small desk calculator.“From all of the foregoing, you are now intricately linked with international trade and you have a duty to adhere to stringent international and world-based practices. This is a new day for Customs and you should be proud to know that you have entered the threshold of a new and innovative system.”