The SADC region is now equipped with a third World Customs Organization accredited Regional Training Centre in addition to the South African and Zimbabwean Regional Training Centre. The Regional Training Centres are excellent platforms for Customs to advance capacity building and to share information and best practices.
The Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA) has been selected by the WCO to host the RTC as part of the WCO initiative to optimise resources in the region and in line with government’s objective of making of Mauritius a Knowledge Hub. The RTC represents the 25 of its kind adding to the existing Centres across the world and is the fourth one in the WCO ESA region.
The Centre will enable the WCO achieve its mission of enhancing Customs administrations in the WCO ESA region thereby helping these Customs administrations to make an important contribution to the development of international trade and to the socio-economic well-being of their country.
Under the WCO strategy the RTC has four main objectives namely: development of regionally relevant training; maintenance of specialist trainer pools; provision of specialist training at a regional level; and development and support of the WCO’s blended learning programme. Moreover, it has as task to develop and maintain annual training plans and work in partnership with the private sector to maintain effective relationships between Customs and economic operators as well as assist Member countries in their training needs.
The Mauritius RTC is equipped with English, French and Portuguese language facilities as well as an e-learning platform. The Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr. Xavier Luc Duval, formally opened the RTC on the 25th November 2013. In his opening address, Secretary General Mikuriya commended the leadership and continued engagement of Mauritius, previously as WCO Vice-Chair for the East and Southern Africa (ESA) Region from 2011 to 2013, and now as host of an RTC. He hoped that this RTC would serve to share knowledge and strengthen the human resource network for Customs cooperation and regional integration.
On the ocassion of my 300th post, join me in raising the Portcullis for Mauritius Customs! During September, the Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA) marked the bicentenary celebrations of Customs services in Mauritius by launching a special First Day Cover with four stamps on the Customs Department to mark the bicentenary celebrations of Customs Services in Mauritius. The issue of these new stamps is an acknowledgement of the significant contribution of the Customs services to the economic and social life of the country for more than 200 years. The four stamps depict the Customs Services in different fields with denotation of Rs 7, Rs 8, Rs 20 and Rs 25 illustrating some of the areas where the customs services are involved in their fight against crime and fraud prevention through the use of people, animals and state-of-the-art technology.
On 18 August 1797, a ‘bureau de Douane’ was established for the purpose of raising revenue in a context of war and blockade. It became a major financial institution contributing towards 50% of total revenue. The British took over in 1811 and installed the first Collector of Customs.British Customs practices were gradually introduced in the colony in line with British commercial law.
In modern times, the MRA Customs Department has set as one of its main objective to combat the illicit trade of drug and other illicit substances. The MRA has a team of 6 drug detector dogs handled by certified dog handlers trained by the French Customs and the South African Revenue Services (SARS). Our dogs have been selected carefully from examined litters and were declared competent drug detector dogs as per SAQA Unit Standard in the handling of a service to detect illicit substances.
Since 2008, our sniffer dogs have detected drugs in 25 instances involving the import of Cannabis, Heroin, Hashish, Subutex and other illegal substances worth around Rs 42,530,543. The Drug Detector Dog squad operates at the courier services, Parcel Post Office, Vehicle Search at Airport, Port and Freight Stations, Port area, Airport (Plaisance Air Transport Services & Luggage on carrousels at SSR Int. Airport and Aircraft search) as well as at the seaport for search of vessels. Source: Mauritius Revenue Authority
Delegates from at least 20 African Customs Administrations met in Pretoria, South Africa between 13 and 15 August to advance developments towards a common framework and approach to IT inter-connectivity and information exchange in the region. Convened by the SADC secretariat in consultation with COMESA and Trademark Southern Africa (TMSA), the three day work session focussed on uniform acceptance of the WCO‘s Globally Networked Customs (GNC) methodology, regional awareness of customs developments in the Southern and East African region, as well as joint agreement on customs data to be exchanged between the member states.
Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA) shared its experience with delegates on the launch of its Customs Enforcement Network (CEN). Kenya Revenue Authority will soon be sharing enforcement information with its MRA counterpart. At least 22 African countries are expected to link up with the CEN network over a period of time. Customs enforcement information is the second pillar of the WCO’s GNC information exchange methodology; the first pillar being Customs information exchange. The latter provides for a holistic approach to the dissemination of common customs data derived from supply chain exchanges, for example declaration information, cargo information, and AEO information to name but a few. This information is vital for trading countries to administer advance procedures and better validate the information being provided by the trade.
Rwanda Revenue Authority introduced it’s RADDex programme which is a web-based IT solution for the exchange of cargo manifest information between participating states in the East African Community (EAC) – see related article below.
SADC and COMESA are rallying their members to participate in the initiative. At the current juncture, various member states have expressed keen interest to participate. While the regional intention is the linking of all customs administration’s electronically, initial developments envisage bi-lateral exchanges between Customs administrations which are ready to engage. The importance of the adoption of the GNC methodology is to ensure that customs connectivity and information exchange is harmonised and consistent across the Southern and East African region irrespective of whether countries are ‘early adopters’ or not.