JIS News

Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. Omar Davies, has challenged customs officers to uphold the integrity of the department, by refusing to be corrupted into allowing illegal contraband, including guns, to enter the island.
Dr. Davies was addressing the graduation ceremony for customs officers, who had participated in the line officers training course. The function was held at the Ministry’s National Heroes Circle offices on Thursday (Dec. 9).
He told the graduates that they needed to take their job very seriously. “Your job, apart from defending your personal integrity, is to ensure that the integrity of the customs department is never brought into question by any action which you may carry out or not carry out,” he stated.
Dr. Davies also charged the commissioner of customs to ensure that anyone who stepped out of line was dealt with accordingly. “It is a very serious charge. You are taking on an enormous responsibility and increasingly, it is not just about the revenue forgone.it is about the national defence of this country,” he stated.
He said that a major deterrence to social and economic progress in some inner-city communities, such as his South St. Andrew constituency, was the fact that there were too many illegal firearms in these communities. “You represent the first line of defence against escalation of that problem,” he told the officers.
Noting the extent of the problem, Dr. Davies informed that he had started a major literacy and education drive in the community but its progress was being hindered as persons were reluctant to attend classes due to fear of gunmen. “You play a critical role for the future in terms of whatever you can do to reduce the imports of those firearms,” Dr. Davies said.
It was very important, he said, that the customs department began to systematically rebuild its reputation for integrity so that persons would never dare to think that they could buy or bribe their way through or that there could be corruption within that service.
“You have been trained well; you can play a critical role in ensuring that the customs department rebuilds that notion in terms of public perception of your integrity,” he stated.
Dr. Davies noted further, that having travelled around the world, he could say that Jamaica’s customs department was world class. “So I do not want you to see yourself as part of the custom service of a third world developing country. I want you to start benchmarking yourself against best world practices,” he stated.
A total of 55 custom officers participated in the course, where they were exposed to customs laws and procedures and equipped with necessary skills and competencies to more effectively carry out their tasks. The graduates were the last batch of custom officers to have passed through the programme.

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