January 31, 2020

International Customs Day 2020 “Fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet”.

OVER THE past decade and a half, the St Vincent and the Grenadines Customs and Excise have joined the Brussels based World Customs Organization (WCO) in celebrating International Customs Day on January 26th each year. It is a special moment where we unite to remember and to celebrate the significant contributions made by Customs Officials and the Customs organizations in general, whose daily work greatly affects the economy, health and security of our beautiful SVG. This year we celebrate considering the significance of the theme chosen by the WCO; “Customs fostering Sustainability for people, prosperity and the planet”.

Each day, Customs is engaged in activities that are focused on the development of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Customs do important work aiming to satisfy the needs of the present without compromising the capacity of future generations. The protection and collection of government revenue, facilitation of trade and travel and protection of our borders are activities that would guarantee the balance between economic growth, care for the environment and social well-being.

The global political economy, the impact of climate change and the archipelagic nature of our country remain constant challenges as we seek to fulfill our mandate. For 2020 the Department will focus on strengthening Trade Facilitation, enhancing organizational effectiveness and to broaden and deepen relationships with all stakeholders, locally, regionally and internationally.

Customs will continue to advance its Risk Management and Post Clearance Audit programs. The improvement of our Risk Management programs are aimed at reducing clearance times while improving customs controls. The aim is to focus customs control on consignments which present a higher degree of risk, while quickly releasing low risk consignments through the use of ICT. The Department will now minimize human intervention and subjectivity in the selection process, thereby promoting fair trade and transparency in keeping with the World Trade Organization (WTO) trade facilitation agenda. Risk Management therefore has now afforded compliant importers the opportunity of taking possession of their consignments void of any customs inspections.

Customs also has plans for the installation and commissioning of a non-intrusive palletized scanner in Port Kingstown for 2020.

This initiative would also improve clearance speed as well as increase security. The Department will also commence a phased approach to a Single Window Facility.

This platform provides for a one stop shop for importers to process all import and export documentation.

2020 will also see a strong focus placed on strengthening Customs legislations and regulatory reforms. The Revised Structure of the Common External Tariff (CET) based on the 2017 Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System will be included in the 2020 legislative agenda. It takes into consideration both environmental and social issues of global concern. It will also reflect the changes in international trade patterns and advances in technology. Complementing the introduction of the new revised CET will be the commissioning of a New Customs Bill which is fashioned after the CARICOM Harmonized Customs Legislation.

Finally, we are determined to broaden and deepen relationships with stakeholders in all sectors, by maintaining open channels of communication, collaboration and mutual assistance. The work of the Customs is influenced by the global environment, and so must take a holistic approach in order to do our part to promote a better world.

The Department has decided to celebrate International Customs Day with a number of activities. A Church Service at the New Testament Church at Wilson began the week On Sunday 26th January, with a blessing and encouragement for the staff. We were welcomed by the students of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College Division of Arts and Sciences and the Technical Division to make presentations on the Roles and Functions of Customs. An exhibition to raise public awareness would be held on Friday, January 31st, 2020 outside of the Customs Canteen. On Saturday, February 1st a social activity designed to show appreciation for Customs Officers will be held. We recognize their exemplary service to the organization and to the nation.

The Customs and Excise Department would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff, all our clients and stakeholders for their understanding, support and cooperation throughout 2019. We solicit your cooperation in the future as we work together for a more sustainable St. Vincent and the Grenadines and a truly bright and prosperous future.

Mr. Selwyn Da Silva Comptroller of Customs (Ag.)