SKILLED STAFFING OF CUSTOMS DEPT. DEEMED CRUCIAL FOR COLLECTING REVENUE FROM PETROLEUM PRODUCTS IMPORTS

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Commissioner of Customs, Wade Smith informed Legislators during the Standing Finance Committee deliberations that there is a plan to ensure that Government collects all of its revenues from petroleum ventures.

During his appearance before the Standing Finance Committee, Mr. Smith pointed out that the petroleum industry in the BVI is one of the greatest revenue generators for the Customs Department, and as such he advised that in order for Government to collect the revenue that is lawfully due, care and attention must be placed on this industry.

The Commissioner called for the posting of well-rounded officers who are properly trained to deal with importation/exportation, and duty concession sales of petroleum products in the Territory.

He explained that the selected officers would need to be knowledgeable about importation, exportation and concession sales and that as a team designated to handle this complex industry they must be familiar with procedures for oil tanker arriving in the Territory with petroleum products to be discharged at a fuel depot in the Virgin Islands. He said that the team would need to understand procedures that would occur before the vessel could break bulk; the process relating to the dipping of tanks at fuel depot and the interpretation of calibration charts.

Furthermore, the Commissioner opined that the officers attending the fuel depots must know the criteria and the tools used to ascertain the amount of fuel received from discharging tankers.

The Head of Customs therefore urged Legislators to empower the Department to carry out its mission. In fact Mr. Smith told the Committee that it was critical that the financial resources of Customs are not reduced, as he pointed out that that would prevent the Department from having the correct number of officers in place to enable rotation on a biweekly, bimonthly basis to prevent officers from becoming too relaxed and also lower the risk of opportunity for corruption.

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