Tenijah Lawrence, an Antigua and Barbuda Junior Customs Officer of over 16 years, says "I feel a greater sense of professionalism and responsibility as a customs officer." She is one of the 100 Customs Officers to participate in a comprehensive training program undertaken by USAID, through its Caribbean Open Trade Support (COTS) Program in 2008.
Customs revenues generate between 35 and 40% of revenues for the Government of Antigua and Barbuda. Coupled with the private sector's poor opinion of Customs' performance, the Government decided to modernize its Customs and Excise Department.
The positive impact achieved through the junior officers training, resulted in an urgent call for training of the Senior Customs Officers which USAID conducted. By the end of the training USAID had helped build capacity of 85% of the staff of the Customs and Excise Department.
The Customs Officers were trained in core customs functions including valuation, examination and classification of goods and developed skills in communication, situation diffusion and dealing with the public. The training material was provided by USAID's strategic partner, Caribbean Council of Law Enforcement Council (CCLEC).
Mr. Patrick Ryan, a well known businessman and President of the Antigua and Barbuda Employer's Federation, noted an improvement in service, commenting that "...the customs officers now seem more prepared to handle their jobs and duties."
At the graduation ceremony, Dr Errol Cort, Minister of Finance and Economy expressed his profound gratitude and said that he was proud to see a professional customs staff that is now empowered to do their job.
Last updated: August 23, 2013