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International Customs Day 2024 Address

Mr. Selwyn DaSilva – Comptroller of Customs and Excise


Once again, the Customs and Excise Department join with the World Customs Organization in commemorating International Customs Day. This auspicious day will be celebrated on January 26th, 2024, under the theme, "Customs Engaging Traditional and New Partners with Purpose". This presents an opportunity to pay tribute to the hard-working men and women of the Customs and Excise Department and to thank our past officers and staff members for laying a solid foundation on which to build on. It is a timely opportunity for us to showcase the department and how it contributes to the economic development of our country.

The Customs and Excise Department plays a pivotal role in protecting the country’s financial well-being by collecting duties and taxes and facilitating the smooth movement of goods into and out of the country. Our presence at the frontline protects the population against illicit and dangerous goods as we strive to ensure that health and safety are not compromised.

In 2023, the department provided the platform for customers to make payment using debit cards through the use of point-of-sale machines. The department intends to rollout more ICT reforms for the fiscal year 2024. Under the government Digital Transformation Project, the trading community will benefit from the upgrade of the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) and the commencement of work on an Electronic Single Window for International Trade (ESWIFT). ASYCUDA upgrade will bring us closer to our goal of offering our customers a paperless environment. Simplifying procedures and online payment options are expected to bring considerable benefits to the trade. Implementing an Electronic Single Window will undoubtedly be a game changer in transforming the trading community and doing business on a whole regarding import, export, and transit. The ESWIFT will create a single virtual space where all agencies involved in import/export will interact with each other. The multiplier effect will result in cost savings, reduced clearance time and increased business satisfaction. The ultimate goal is that as trade procedures become more straightforward and faster, the department will become more efficient, and customers will save time and money.

A second palletized scanner will also be commissioned at Port Kingstown this year, fulfilling the government’s mandate to make our ports safer and secure. Introducing these scanners into our daily examination procedures will go a long way towards detecting dangerous goods, identifying contraband and reducing smuggling. Through a risk management approach, low risk imports are expected to experience faster clearance times, while suspicious and high risk imports will receive greater scrutiny.

During the week of activities to celebrate International Customs Day 2024, the department will launch its new upgraded website. Upgrades to the website will provide our stakeholders with a user-friendly platform to interact with the Customs Department. Quick access to current and pertinent information, forms as well as documents, will enhance the ease of doing business for our stakeholders. Work on the website will be ongoing and continuous as we pledge to improve our relationship with our stakeholders continuously. 

While the Customs and Excise Department is adopting and implementing new trade facilitation reforms, the trading community, particularly shipping agencies, brokers, and merchants are equally expected to lift their game and embrace new approaches to doing business. Capacity building and retooling of Customs Brokers are prerequisites for conducting commerce in a virtual space. It is imperative to understand clearance procedures and other regulatory procedures to save time and money. The time has come to establish a Broker’s Association as a critical link in the supply chain of the trading community.

In keeping with the theme of this year’s celebration, ‘Customs Engaging Traditional and new Partners with Purpose’, the department will initiate stakeholder contact through a stakeholder survey that would allow us to receive current and client-driven feedback—taking a pulse of the trading community and ensuring that we address their primary concerns.

I once more take this opportunity to wish the entire staff of the Customs and Excise Department of St.Vincent and the Grenadines, Happy International Customs Day, 2024. Let us continue to facilitate legitimate international trade and travel while we collect the State’s revenue and protect our borders.

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