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News : Bahamas Information Services Updates Last Updated: Jul 8, 2017 - 6:17:29 PM

U.S. Coast Guard provides training for Bahamas Customs Marine Unit
By Llonella Gilbert
Jul 8, 2017 - 6:04:32 PM

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Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Peter Turnquest was the keynote speaker at the U.S. Coast Guard Small Boat Operations 1 Course Closing Ceremonies at the Customs Building, Friday, July 7, 2017. BIS Photos/Raymond A. Bethel, Sr.

NASSAU, The Bahamas -- Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Peter Turnquest thanked the United States Embassy and local partners for facilitating the training officers in the Bahamas Customs Marine Unit to ensure that The Bahamas and its neighbours’ borders are secure.
“The borders of our country are very porous and open and the effective deployment of our law enforcement and revenue enforcement personnel is important not only to secure our borders in respect to threats from illegal activities and from narcotics, but also in assuring that we secure the revenue that is vitally needed to carry out the services and functions of a well organised government.”
The Acting Prime Minister was speaking at the U.S. Coast Guard Small Boat Operations 1 Course Closing Ceremonies at the Customs Building, Friday, July 7, 2017.
Also attending the ceremonies were U.S. Charge d’Affaires, American Embassy, Lisa Johnson and Comptroller of Customs, Charles Turner.
Mr. Turnquest said the training was all about ensuring that the nation’s human resource has the requisite skills and experience in order to carry out their functions effectively.
“This course provided critical training for the officers in the Customs Department and specifically the 15 officers of the Marine Unit in carrying out their mandate to prevent, detect and interdict those individuals who breach the Customs laws of this country.”
He noted that the Marine Unit was re-established in February 2015 and has a complement of 19 officers, of which 11 are deployed in Grand Bahama or Exuma.  The Unit also has six vessels deployed in New Providence, Grand Bahama and Exuma.
Mr. Turnquest said, however, that number of vessels is not enough for the Unit to adequately meet its mandate and would be speaking with the Comptroller and senior staff at the Customs Department on how the staff can be augmented in the short term.
“Since taking office, I have also followed through with the recommendations of the Customs Department to furnish the Department with resources to procure the Unit with additional equipment to ensure that members of the Unit can carry out their tasks in a safe manner.”
Mr. Turnquest added, “There is no doubt that the Government fully supports the modernisation of the Customs Department and would continue to invest to strengthen the Department.”
Officers of the U.S. Coast Guard facilitated the U.S. Coast Guard Small Boat Operations 1 Course for The Bahamas Customs Unit Marine Unit. BIS Photos/Raymond A. Bethel, Sr.

The Comptroller of Customs said the training was made up of three components: the strengthening of customs management and capacity building, the modernisation of customs operations and implementation of the electronic single window, and the enhancement of the international trade institutional platform.
The Bahamas Customs and Excise Department in conjunction with the Ministry of Finance entered into a loan agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) on August 1, 2012, to embark upon a modernisation project.  It was part of this modernisation and in an effort to keep pace with the ever-changing trends and operations of the illegal sector, that the Marine Unit was re-established and launched on Monday, 16th February 2015.    
Mr. Turner said, “This Unit has enabled us to expand our ability to achieve our mandate with respect to the connection and protection of our Government’s revenue as well as the interdiction of illegal contraband, counterfeit goods, tax evaders and smuggled activities.”
He said the Marine Unit has been directly responsible for approximately $793,000 being deposited into the Public Treasury.
“Since the establishment of the Marine Unit, I am pleased to report that as a result of the patrols and special operations in New Providence, Grand Bahama, Exuma, Bimini and Abaco the following has been achieved:
·      In New Providence, during 2016, 19 vessels, four jet skis and two vehicles were seized;
·      In 2017 to date, 11 vessels were seized;
·      In Grand Bahama, a total of nine vessels were seized;
·      The establishment of the Marine Unit in Georgetown, Exuma in April 2016, has resulted in the seizure of six vessels; and
·      Operations around Bimini and Cat Cay have shown an increase in the pleasure vessel boarding fees.”

Officers of the Marine Unit participated in the U.S. Coast Guard Small Boat Operations 1 Course. The Officers attended Closing Ceremonies at the Customs Building, Friday, July 7, 2017.

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