Ministerial Statement by the Minister of National Security, The Honourable Wayne Caines, JP, MP
Mr. Speaker, this morning I wish to provide this Honourable House with a report on the activities of the Customs Department, during the first and second quarter of 2018. The Department has now officially relocated to Custom House, 131 Front Street, Hamilton, where they occupy the 1st and 2nd floors. This relocation has already provided benefits, as the proximity of operational units has reduced the timing and transmittal of sensitive documents. The Department continues to perform its border protection functions, which include the collection of revenue, and the interdiction of drugs and other contraband, inclusive of uncustomed goods.
Mr. Speaker, the Customs Department began the year with the celebration of International Customs Day, on January 26th. This year's theme was "Digital Customs: Progressive Engagement", and a number of events took place throughout the week. Officers and Staff members attended a church service, on Sunday, January 24th, at the St. Paul's A.M.E. Church.
On Tuesday, January 26th, an open house was held at #6 Cruise Ship Passenger Terminal, Front Street, featuring a series of displays and demonstrations, giving the public the opportunity to interact with Customs officers.
The Department also hosted a "Random Acts of Kindness Day", and concluded the week with a staff celebration, recognizing members of staff, for Long Service and Outstanding Work Performance.
Mr. Speaker, in March 2018, the Department advertised for ten Trainee Customs Officers. 487 applications were received. Skills, Standard Fitness, and Drug testing were performed during April and May. Currently, the shortlisted candidates are being interviewed by a recruitment panel, and will be psychometric tested, prior to the final selection, and offering of contracts to the successful applicants. It is anticipated that the new Trainees will begin the foundation training, during the month of August.
Mr. Speaker, the Bermuda Customs express package clearance process comes highly recommended, by various International Courier Companies. As a result, Cayman Customs recently visited Bermuda, to conduct a site visit of our Courier Facilities. The Cayman representatives wanted to adopt an electronic submission process, for their courier operations, and turned to Bermuda Customs as a leader in the field.
Mr. Speaker, during this first half of the year, training has been an integral part of the Department's operations. An advanced Post Clearance Audit and Risk Management training, was conducted by Mr. Stephen Mendes, Administration Advisor for Caribbean Technical Assistance Centre, (CARTAC), based in Barbados, and Mr. Jerry Wellans, who hails from the UK, to a select group of Managers and Customs Officers. These gentlemen delivered an introduction to Risk Management in October 2017, and started the process for Bermuda Customs to develop a Risk based system for importers, and a trusted Trader Program. This training will move certain customs functions to a solid risk based analysis, for importers and imports of goods.
Mr. Speaker, the Customs Department continues to forge a solid relationship with CARTAC, and has benefited from sponsored overseas training for its officers. This training has been extended, to include a week long training course in the Dominican Republic, at the CCLEC Training Centre.
Mr. Speaker, the interdiction arm of the Customs Department continues, as the officers are faced with both drug and illegal contraband smuggling. During the first and second quarter, the Department was successful in interceptions at all ports of entry. Of particular note Mr. Speaker, the recent start of the Cruise Ship season, has already seen an increased number of arriving passengers, in possession of illicit drugs, in various forms, being intercepted at the port of arrival. The excellent working relationship between the ships' security and the Department's Cruise Ship Enforcement Team, (CSET), has produced positive results.
Mr. Speaker, the Department continues to be heavily involved with the National Anti-Money Laundering Committee, (NAMLC), assessment. Bermuda is scheduled to be assessed in the coming months, and the Department has formed a team with Senior Managers leading the process. Anti-Money Laundering training will be introduced to all Customs Officers in the next few months.
Mr. Speaker¸ on May 1st, 2018 the department announced two promotions at the senior management level. Senior Customs Officer Ahmed-Troy Caines was promoted to the rank of Principal Customs Officer; and Principal Customs Officer Sharmette D. Pond was promoted to the position of Assistant Collector of Customs. Both PCO Caines and ACOC Pond have over 30 years of experience with the department, and have been posted to operational areas, within the Investigative, Training, Enforcement and Administrative units. I wish to congratulate them on their promotions and look forward to the good service they will continue to provide to the people of Bermuda.
Mr. Speaker, as we look toward the remainder of the year, the Customs Department will work toward the following objectives:
- World Customs Organisation Diagnostic Study – Integrity, Corruption and Bribery
- Foundation Training for New Trainee Customs Officers
- Attendance at the World Customs Organisation Conference in Brussels
- Fusion and Drone Surveillance Unit
- Additional Joint Teams with other agencies
- NAMLC Assessment & training
Mr. Speaker, I have every confidence that the Collector and her staff will meet these objectives. The Ministry of National Security remains committed to supporting the work of the Bermuda Customs Department.
Thank You, Mr. Speaker.
ACOC Sharmette Pond, PCO Ahmed-Troy Caines, Mr. Wayne Smith – Acting PS, Mrs. Lucinda Pearman – Collector of Customs, PCO Roderick Masters, SCO Tania Esdaille, SCO Lalisha Simmons