BARNABAS ORERE PONDROS
TWO hundred new positions have been created for the new PNG Customs Service which comes into operation next year, Customs Commissioner Gary Juffa said on national radio yesterday.
Speaking on the FM100 Talkback Show about Sunday’s guns bust at Jackson International Airport, Mr Juffa said he was grateful that the Public Service Commission had approved these positions.
The National Executive Council (NEC) decided last June to separate Customs from the Internal Revenue Commission (IRC) and the new entity will now be known as the PNG Customs Service from next year onwards.
Customs was formerly the Bureau of Customs and Excise, under the Finance and Planning Department, until it merged with the Taxation Office to become the IRC in 1993.
The NEC decision reflects the Government’s desire to ensure the country’s borders are secure, duties are collected, ensuring efficient trade facilitation and community protection.
On Tuesday, Mr Juffa said the creation of Customs as a separate entity will “revamp border security issues because there was a dire need and we will be able to facilitate that”.
In recent times, serious concerns had been raised about the lax security along border entry points that have paved way for contraband, arms and people smuggling, trafficking of flora and fauna and other illicit activities.
“There has been an increase in such activities in recent times and the separation of customs from the IRC is a step in the right direction that will make a lot of difference,” an agency source said.
It is understood that a Customs Corporate Plan has been formulated and is being finalised and that it has also submitted its budget.
The source said once legislative changes take effect and are gazetted, Customs will officially be a separate agency.
Mr Juffa did not wish to divulge much information until all legislative changes are put in place and effected but agreed that serious border issues needed to be addressed to ensure the nation was effectively and efficiently protected.
He confirmed that the agency would strive to be a regional leader in securing the national border to enhance PNG security and socio-economic development.