Senior Minister, the Honourable Vance Amory.

Border security in St. Kitts and Nevis will be strengthened in the coming months as the government continues to upgrade Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise Department, Senior Minister, the Honourable Vance Amory said Sunday during an address to mark International Customs Day.

International Customs Day is observed annually on January 26 to highlight the contribution of Customs towards a sustainable future.

According to the senior minister, the men and women at Customs and Excise use a variety of tools, including K-9 dogs and X-ray scanning machines, during border protection duties. He noted a scanning device at the seaport has been very effective.

“By midyear 2020, there will be another scanner installed to manage the ever-increasing cargo at the airport,” he said. “There is also another initiative to introduce passenger baggage scanners at the R.L.B. International Baggage Hall to further improve our nation’s security. This will allow passengers who are sent for secondary screening to be processed much faster.”

The Enforcement Unit of the Customs and Excise Department continues to grow as the number of joint operations with other security agencies including the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force and the St. Kitts-Nevis Defence Force increase.

“This Team Unity Government, has seen it fit to build an Enforcement Building where the different units such as Investigations, Intelligence, Risk Management, Marine Unit, K9 team etc., can be housed. This building I am informed will be commissioned in the first quarter of 2020,” he said.

The senior minister’s remarks were made at the Antioch Baptist Church, where members of the Customs and Excise department had gathered to worship. The church service was the first in a series of events to mark International Customs Day.

Customs and Excise Fostering Sustainability

Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise Department joined the rest of the world to celebrate International Customs Day (ICD) under the theme “Customs Fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet.”

“In light of this, the Customs Department will be looking at the Green Customs Initiative as an ideal strategy. This initiative is geared towards the detection and prevention of illegal trade in environmentally sensitive commodities covered by various Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) and international conventions,” said Senior Minister Amory. ”The commodities of concern are ozone-depleting substances (ODS), toxic chemicals, hazardous wastes, endangered species, and certain living-modified organisms. The objective of the Green Customs Initiative is achieved through awareness-raising on all relevant international agreements.

“St. Kitts and Nevis is heading in the right direction. Our economy is stronger, our streets are safer and more jobs are being created. We can look forward to a brighter future, in part because of the work you [customs officers] undertake so professionally,” he added.

Senior Minister Amory thanked customs officers in St. Kitts and Nevis for the exceptional work they perform.

“I want to thank you for your service. As you gather today to celebrate with your fellow customs officers throughout the world, you are indicating that you are always ready to understand how it is to work together and how it is to collaborate in the best interest of the people of our country,” said Minister Amory. “As they celebrate World Customs Day, we want to advise customs officers that you are at the forefront of building a stronger and safer future for our Federation.”

Customs week in St. Kitts and Nevis continues with an appearance on the Government’s weekly radio and television programme “Working for You” on Wednesday; an Open Day on Friday and beach outing Saturday.