BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, October 22, 2018 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – The St. Kitts and Nevis Customs and Excise Department kicked off its celebratory activities in recognition of its 60th anniversary serving the Federation with a well attended thanksgiving service at the Charlestown Methodist Church in Nevis on Sunday, October 21, 2018.
The service forms part of a week of activities, which runs up to Sunday, October 28, 2018 under the theme, “60 Years of Dedicated Service, Innovation and Advancement.”
The week will include an Open Day at Picture Square, Charlestown, Nevis and at the Customs Headquarters in St. Kitts from 10am (Friday, October 26); a Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort (Saturday, October 27), and community-based activities focused on donating to the St. Christopher Children’s Home and serving the elderly residents at the Flamboyant Home in Nevis and the Cardin Home in St. Kitts.
Joining the regular worshippers of the church were Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris; Premier of Nevis, the Honourable Mark Brantley and Mrs. Brantley; Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, the Honourable Akilah Byron-Nisbett; Financial Secretary of the Federal Government, Mrs. Hilary Hazel; Acting Comptroller of Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise Department, Mr. Kennedy DeSilva, as well as current and past officers of the Customs Department.
While addressing the congregation, Prime Minister Harris expressed his profound gratitude to the employees of the revenue generating agency whose professional approach to their responsibilities has led to an increase in the collection totals so far this year when compared to the same period in 2017.
“As at October 18, 2018, the Customs and Excise Department has collected $139.2 million in taxes and imposts. This compares favourably to the $126 million which they collected for the comparative period in 2017. The increase of $13.2 million for the comparative period represents a 10.4 percent increase in comparative collections,” the Finance Minister stated.
Notably, Prime Minister Harris said that the more than 10 percent increase in collection was realized with no increases to the department’s tax rates.
Dr. Harris continued, “I want to use this occasion to thank the dedicated employees of all of the revenue centres who work assiduously, courteously and professionally to ensure the optimal fiscal functioning of the Government. Your efforts in ensuring the health of the public purse and also the wellbeing of the country shall always be appreciated.”
Commenting on the “innovation and advancement” aspect highlighted in the theme for the anniversary celebrations, the Prime Minister indicated that the Customs Department released an app in Google’s Play Store in 2017, which enables citizens to anonymously provide tips and express any concerns they may have about an officer’s behaviour.
Prime Minister Harris added, “Just last month (September 2018), our Customs and Excise Department installed a state-of-the-art scanner that is able to swallow barrels so that you can see all of the contents that are inside.”
Noting that the new scanner came at a hefty cost, Dr. Harris insisted that it is critically important to add to the technological advancement of the border protection agency, particularly in light of bold activities and more creative methods being undertaken by illicit actors.