DPM Remarks at Customs 105th Anniversary Event

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Today is a day of celebration, and I am delighted to be in such
distinguished company. The Bahamas Customs and Excise
Department is celebrating its 105th anniversary, a significant
milestone worthy of commemoration. All throughout our history, the Customs Department has played a vital role in the economic and social welfare of The Bahamas. Today is no different. Customs is still a principle Revenue Collection Agency for the Government of The Bahamas, with carriage over billions of dollars worth of government revenue. This is the revenue that allows the Government to invest in its transformative socioeconomic growth agenda, and more generally, to guarantee the financial health of the country. This occasion is a reminder of the vital role that Customs plays in the welfare and strength of our nation.

It is not just through its revenue collection functions, as Customs
also plays a leading role in the protection of the nation’s borders
against illicit imports and the facilitation of trade. In fact, the importance of its role with respect to trade facilitation is becoming increasingly more important. In an address to the WCO, celebrating International Customs Day on 25 January 2019 and supporting the WCO theme for this year, “Smart borders for seamless trade, travel and transport” Secretary-General Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, explained it
this way. “It is important for Customs to ensure a secure, measurable, automated, risk-management based and technology-driven environment with a view to creating conditions conducive to securing trade, travel, and transport across borders” The WCO theme also underscores the role Customs plays in supporting the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, by creating transparent and predictable conditions for trade, and facilitating legitimate trade that will contribute to economic growth and job opportunities. Recently, Bahamas Customs has been participating in major institutional strengthening and modernization initiatives, designed to enhance institutional knowledge and increase organizational capacity. Not only is the public demanding higher level of service from the Government and its agencies, but the
global environment is becoming more competitive. The efficiency and effectiveness of our operations can have a significant impact on the type of business environment we create and the type of economic activity we facilitate. The efforts of the Customs Department to embrace promote ongoing learning, to improve performance management, to support leadership development and institutional strengthening, have not gone unnoticed. They have my support, they have the Government’s support and they have the support of the people.

They will lead to even more positive outcomes in the professional quality service that you deliver to the public at large. Customs cannot be successful without the dedication of its workers and their commitment to the moral code embodied by the seven stripes in the customs flag. It is these ideas of integrity, dignity, inquiry, exactitude, amongst others, that guide your officers each and every day. Officers shoulder a great responsibility by serving the nation’s interests and their hard work and dedication is greatly appreciated.

Only those who have worked in public service can truly appreciate that it is not just doing a job, it is a commitment to the country, and I encourage you to take pride in that. I quote the words of Margaret Chase Smith, a pioneering female politician in the United States who said: “My creed is that public service must be more than doing a job efficiently and honestly. It must be a complete dedication to the people and to the nation with full recognition that every human being is entitled to courtesy and consideration, that constructive criticism is not
only to be expected but sought, that smears are not only to be expected but fought, that honor is to be earned, not bought.” Public service often comes with a personal sacrifice that not everyone is willing to make. Have no doubt about it; however, your sacrifices and hard work make a difference in our country. To the entire Customs family, I encourage you to continue bringing the best of yourselves to work every day.

I encourage you to be open and adaptable as we leap further into the 21st century with all of the dynamic change it is bringing. I encourage you to carry yourselves and perform in a way that will make the government a source of inspiration and pride. And most importantly, I encourage you to put God first, and let him be your guide, not just on the job, in the home and in all areas of your life.

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