Today the Customs and Excise Department in partnership with World Customs Organization held a virtual ceremony commemorating International Customs Day. These agencies that are stationed at the borders endured the pandemic as the cargo operations of the borders remained open to facilitate the engine of trade that drives the local economy. The officer in charge at the Customs Training Unit Tricia Soberanis elaborated on how the department made innovative changes in celebrating this year Customs Day amid the pandemic.
Tricia Soberanis, Sr.Customs Officer, Customs Training Unit: “We do this every year, unfortunately this year we’re not able to do our usual which is an official ceremony inviting our key stakeholders to join us and having guest speakers and one of the main event is the information fair that we would usually either host here at our premise or take it out in the wider public at the Battlefield Park or at the Civic Center to be able to reach a wider group of people and general public to be able to spread more about what we do. So of course we weren’t able to do that but it did not stop us we embraced the technology aspect of it and we decided to record a virtual official ceremony of the same things that we would usually do; our Comptroller’s address, we also issue certificates of merit to stakeholders and this year we focused on our staff so about twenty personnel received a certificate of merit and also this year we decided to add in the recognition of officers and staff that are being recognized for their long service under the government service. They’re being recognized and of course they weren’t able to have been recognized last year because of the pandemic and so we decided to throw that in to start of this year with.”
The way the department commemorates its annual celebrations isn’t the only thing that has seen dramatic changes brought on by the CORONA-VIRUS. The department has also restructured the way it does business, they are now tasked with finding strategic ways to mitigate the challenges related to revenue collection and implemented sanitary protocols to help curb the rate of infection among officers and the populous at large.
Tricia Soberanis, Sr.Customs Officer, Customs Training Unit: “As we engaged in our reform and modernization around 2008 to about 2011 it was to prepare us for circumstances that evolved as we go along for example these and it involves us looking at how we do things and how to do things in a more modern way and it prepared us to function in the 21st century looking at the evolving roles and challenges. The adoption of the ASYCUDA World system is an automated system for customs data it’s basically an automated clearance system for clearing goods, customs clearance system actually, and it allows us to be more effective and efficient in how we provide our service, in how we function. And so that is one aspect that has helped us to be able to function effectively and efficiently during the pandemic and still up to now it has also contributed to increase in revenue collection for us over the years and this tool also allows us to be able to work much faster in terms of extraction of data, reporting, accountability. People can access this system from home once they have internet.
This year’s annual Customs Day was celebrated under the theme “Customs bolstering recovery, renewal, and resilience for a sustainable supply chain.