THEME: “NURTURING THE NEXT GENERATION BY PROMOTING A CULTURE OF KNOWLEDGE-SHARING AND PROFESSIONAL PRIDE IN CUSTOMS”
On the 26th of January each year, the world commemorates International Customs Day. Each year, the World Customs Organization marks this day by setting a theme relevant to current global issues that is aimed at guiding and inspiring Customs administrations around the world as they work to address these common global issues. This year’s theme is “Nurturing the next generation by Promoting a Culture of Knowledge-Sharing and Professional Pride in Customs”.
This year, the Ministry marked the day with an official program highlighting the importance of the theme to the overall functions of the Ministry as well as the contributions of our key development partners towards building the capacities of Tonga Customs to enable the same. Officers of the Ministry were joined by Chief Guest, the Honorable Minister of Revenue & Customs and the Minister of Finance, Hon. Tiofilusi Tiueti, as well as representatives of Foreign Diplomatic representatives to the Kingdom of Tonga.
“The World Customs Organization’s choice for the theme for 2023, clearly highlights the importance that Customs administrations must place on its workforce. In particular, there is a clear emphasis on Administrations having in place the necessary frameworks which create an environment that inspires its Customs officials to uphold high standards of professionalism because of the vital functions performed by Customs.
Development of its workforce by firstly, imparting on its budding and aspiring Officers the valuable knowledge built up over its history and also by ensuring that officials are prepared to meet the many new challenges that the future will continue to bring.
The Tongan Customs Administration has a rich history and has been the leading administration as far as the development of border security and the development of trade facilitation in Tonga is concerned.
It has evolved from being a department of the Ministry of Finance to now being a standalone Ministry together with the Inland Revenue Services Division. Customs Offices now span across Tonga with presence in Tonga’s major international Ports and Airports of Tongatapu and Vava`u as well as in Ha`apai and recently expanded to have a presence in the northern most island of Niuatoputapu.
Its workforce has increased two-fold over the past decade and its functions has expanded from core customs border clearances and duty and tax collection at the ports of entry to performing primary line immigration clearances, leading National trade facilitation initiatives and now playing a key role in areas of regional and international security.
The success of the many reform and modernization initiatives of Tonga Customs can be attributed to the efforts of the Ministry and the technical and financial support we continue to receive from our international development partners. To this end, we are forever grateful to the Governments of the Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the People’s Republic of China who continue to play a vital role in building the capacities of Tonga Customs.
Our experiences of overcoming unprecedented challenges in the past 2 to 3 years, is just an example of how the valuable knowledge built following past experiences are vital in preparing us for this new year and the many challenges that we envisage the year 2023 will bring.
Tonga Customs was a key player in the Government’s efforts to respond and rebuild following major disaster caused by Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha`apai eruptions and tsunami as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this experience, the Government and the people of Tonga are rest assured that with that experience and the continued support of our development partners the Tonga Customs administration will continue to grow from strength to strength.
As the Government of the day, we will continue to support the efforts of key agencies such as our Customs administration to ensure that appropriate policy and frameworks are in place to allow Customs to continue building its capacity with the highest regard to international standards of integrity and professionalism.
Finally, in marking this important day, I take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank Customs officers past and present for your tremendous service to the Government and people of Tonga and wish you all a happy International Customs Day.”
Minister of Revenue and Customs
Hon. Tiofilusi Tiueti