Bodies strengthen ties

National, Normal

The National, Tuesday 02nd April, 2013

THE National Information and Communications Technology Authority (NICTA) and PNG Customs have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to step up surveillance and strengthen efforts to  police the importation of unapproved ICT equipment.
The signing of the MoU by NICTA chief executive Charles Punaha and PNG Customs Commissioner Ray Paul paves the way for more cooperation and sharing of information between the two authorities to stop illegal equipment reaching the local market.
NICTA is responsible for the licensing and regulation of the ICT industry, including the types of ICT equipment such as mobile phones, walkie-talkies and other communication devices imported by  dealers and importers.
The type-approval and certification work done by NICTA ensures that the equipment meets national and international standards and is not faulty or causes interference to existing information and communications technology (ICT) networks and services.
PNG Customs is responsible for border security, facilitation of international trade and collection of taxes and duties on behalf of the state.
Punaha pointed out that Asian-made boom boxes and portable radios, including those in imported reconditioned vehicles, were illegal.                                                                                 
“Unfortunately, most of these products come from China and the number of these items is quite alarming,” Punaha said.                                                                                         
He said most of the items were confiscated in Kiunga and Vanimo by NICTA officers with the help of police.                                                                                                                           
NICTA Licensing and Enforcement director Une O’Ome said the radios were manufactured for frequencies lower than those regulated in the country and therefore regarded illegal.                                                                                                   
He said “88 megahertz to 108 megahertz is the regulated radio frequency spectrum for PNG. Suppliers are not aware of that, therefore that is illegal.”
More serious is the fact that the equipment could pick up police messages which are transmitted on very low frequency.                                                            Customs Commissioner Ray Paul issued a stern warning to importers of those items.                                                                                                                               
“Some people knowingly do this, and I must say vehicles will also be checked if it requires us to do so,” he said.                                                                                          
PNG Customs has a presence in most maritime provinces where international vessels berth.
The key features of the cooperation between the two authorities now include among others, the sharing of information and exchange data with a view to enhancing the effectiveness of the MoU in areas such provision of legal advice on the import of ICT equipment, updated customs listings of imported goods and items and the seizure and destruction of unapproved imported equipment.
The MoU requires customs officers at entry points to readily inform NICTA about the ICT equipment that were not indicated on the  authorised listing provided to them or if the name of an importer is not registered by NICTA.
Likewise, NICTA will provide Customs with updated lists of ICT equipment on a monthly basis as they become available on the market.
The MoU is the first of its kind to be signed between the two government bodies.