Officers encouraged to be honorable against illegal imports
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – The evolving role of a Customs and Excise officer in St. Kitts and Nevis was highlighted March 20 at the closing ceremony for the 12th Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council’s (CCLEC) Junior Officer Basic Training Course.
Deputy Financial Secretary of the St. Kitts and Nevis Ministry of Finance Calvin Edwards addressed the 28 customs officers from Nevis, Montserrat and host island St. Kitts who completed the course, and said that while revenue collection is their primary focus, there has been growing emphasis on detecting illegal narcotics and firearms.
“More and more focus is being directed to border protection, money laundering and the like,” he stated. “More specifically, drugs and weapons interdiction has become common functions of a customs officer. In order to deal with these emerging areas, customs officers on the frontline must be equipped with the particular skill set and basic tools to allow them to function effectively and efficiently.”
Edwards also encouraged the men and women to be vigilant and to remain committed to duty as the revenues collected play an important part in national development by funding health care, education, public infrastructure and more. The deputy financial secretary also highlighted the reality that bribes are offered as a lure by some to have the customs officer “look the other way” for illegal imports.
“When you are discharging your functions, you have to bear in mind it’s not only you alone,” he said. “You are representing the department [and] your colleagues and you ought not to do anything that will compromise your department or your colleagues.”
Edwards wished the men and women well as they serve the public and noted that the completed extensive eight-week training will serve them well.
“So, what you have to do now is to go back to your job determined to be the best customs officer possible; go back to your jobs determined to distinguish yourselves,” he said.
The deputy financial secretary noted that there will be many opportunities for additional training and encouraged the officers to learn as much as they can as they continue in this noble career.