PAPUA New Guinea will never be safe and our national security will always be under threat without sufficient and proper border security.
Border security is vital in the interception of illegal immigrants, weapons, drugs, flora and fauna, and other contraband.
Border security must include infrastructure, intelligence, proper surveillance and the very important element of all recognised points of entry being manned at all times.
Border security is vital to defend PNG against human smuggling, child sex tourism, money laundering, terrorism and other transnational crimes.
We cannot deny that many of these crimes have already occurred and are occurring frequently in the country.
Serious concerns have been raised time and again about the lax security along border entry points.
Protecting our borders must be on the Government’s paramount “to do list” and must remain so as long as we are a sovereign state.
The setting up of the Border Development Authority by the National Government this year is a step in the right direction.
Also reassuring is the National Executive Council’s decision of June this year to separate the Customs operations division from the Internal Revenue Commission from next year.
PNG Customs Services is the product of that decision.
Clearly, the presence of PNG Customs on our borders and ports has been wanting so far, due to many reasons including manpower woes, but with the changes, this is set to change.
It is envisaged that by next year, PNG Customs Services will be a rejuvenated and robust agency that will be more effective and efficient its vision and mission.
Under the new entity, Customs will play a crucial role in border security, community protection, trade facilitation and revenue collection.
Facilitating the legitimate movement of people and goods across our border and simultaneously maintaining the integrity and security of the border are important tasks undertaken by Papua New Guinea Customs.
Customs ensures supply chain security and protects the health and safety of our people.
This is known, generally, as border security.
Border security is vital as it keeps unwanted people and goods out and safeguards things that are unique and important to PNG, such as exotic flora and fauna.
In community protection, Customs will detect and prevent illicit and counterfeit goods harmful to the community from coming into the country.
For trade facilitation, Customs will facilitate legitimate trade with minimum delay and costs while simultaneously collecting Government revenue and providing reliable trade statistics and economic data.
All these run parallel and are coherent with the Government’s overall plan to beef up border security and complement the creation of the Border Development Authority.
The Customs Corporate Plan has been formulated and is being finalised and it has also submitted its budget.
Increased manpower has also been approved.
Customs Commissioner Gary Juffa told The National last week that border issues need to be addressed to ensure that the nation is effectively and efficiently protected.
“The agency will strive to be become a regional leader in securing the national borders to enhance the security and socio-economic development of PNG,” he said.
It is indeed the dawn of a new era for PNG Customs as it is about to realise its full potential.
An example of the importance of Customs to national security was the seizure of four high-powered assault rifles and a Glock semi-automatic pistol at Jackson International Airport last week.
The deadly weapons were confiscated from a man arriving from the Philippines.
They are normally used by military and police special forces around the world.
We can only imagine the outcome if these weapons had ended up in the wrong hands.
The challenge now is for Commissioner Juffa, his executives and officers to nurture the new entity and ensure that it performs the duties expected of it, to ensure the safety of our citizens.
PNG Customs will also need to collaborate with key stakeholders such as the police and Defence and together they must stand as the vanguard to keep all unwanted elements out of the country.