|CCLEC 33rd Annual Conference|
The 33rd Annual Conference was hosted by Barbados Customs from May 25-27 2011. Customs officials from the Caribbean and metropolitan countries as well as several regional and international organisations.
The tone of the 33rd Annual CCLEC Conference was set at the Opening Ceremony by the Comptroller of Customs, Mr Frank Holder, Mr Cesar Zorrilla, Chair of the 32nd Conference, Secretary General of the WCO, Mr Kunio Mikuriya and Honourable Hon Christopher Sinckler, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Barbados.
Mr Kunio Mikuriya, who was attending the CCLEC conference for the first time as Secretary General, underscored the role of Customs at the border and the importance of capacity building to meet the increasing challenges in border management as it relates to trade and security.
The Hon Christopher Sinckler, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Barbados affirmed his Government’s strong support and commitment for the work of the Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council (CCLEC). He said it can be easily demonstrated that the benefits of CCLEC membership far outweigh the annual contributions made by members.
He said that since the establishment of CCLEC three decades ago a lot has changed and with the advent of several new trade arrangements such as the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement the role of Customs will be challenged further.
He noted that in response to all of these challenges, CCLEC has adapted its mandate to place greater emphasis in promoting essential Capacity Building Initiatives which focus on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of Customs Administrations and which can deliver significant dividends for regional Governments.
One such initiative is the CCLEC Customs Education Program in collaboration with the University of Canberra which provides a learning path for Customs Officers seeking to further develop their professional skills.
During the Opening Ceremony Curacao membership was formalized through the signing of the CCLEC MOU. The Netherlands Antilles which became a member of CCLEC in 1989 was dissolved in January this year and as a result Curacao and St Maarten became autonomous countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Each country will now be represented at CCLEC meetings.
This year the theme ‘Professional Customs Management through Human Resource Development’ was selected to highlight the need for Customs to realign its workforce in order to meet the new challenges facing Customs in managing a modern Customs Department. Prof Vivienne Roberts from the University of the West Indies who made a presentation on Human Resource Development said that there are many environmental challenges which will impact on institutional efficiency, effectiveness and productivity in Customs. The transition from agriculture to manufacturing to services and now to knowledge- based economies, globalization, ICT etc will exert pressure on the human resource not only for slowly up-skilling all staff but also for rapidly multi-skilling and constant retooling.
Following a long period of absence, the meeting was very pleased to welcome a representative from Interpol to the annual conference. CCLEC and Interpol signed an MOU in 2004 and this meeting presented an opportunity for the two organisations to discuss closer cooperation amongst other things.
The meeting approved a draft MOU with CARICOM/IMPACS which seeks to foster collaboration in training and enforcement for the betterment of border security in the region.
Members were sad to see the departure of one of the organisation’s stalwarts, Mr Carlon Powery, Collector of Customs in Cayman Islands. In 1990, under Mr. Carlon Powery’s tenure as Collector of Customs, the Cayman Customs Department became a member of the Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council (CCLEC) and a year later the department became a member of the executive committee. Mr. Powery was elected chairman of EXCO in 2001, serving in this capacity until May 2005.
Mr Powery has been a devoted supporter of CCLEC and has contributed to the development of CCLEC in the areas of training and enforcement. We wish him the very best in his future endeavours.