The Ministry of Finance Launches New U.S.-supported Customs Hotline to Help Fight Customs Crime

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U.S. Ambassador Kevin Blackstone (left) and Timor-Leste's Minister of Finance, H.E. Rui Augusto Gomes, launch the Customs Hotline with USAID support.
U.S. Ambassador Kevin Blackstone (left) and Timor-Leste's Minister of Finance, H.E. Rui Augusto Gomes, launch the Customs Hotline with USAID support.
Cris Guterres/USAID

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, May 18, 2021
USAID Development Outreach Communications Specialist Cristóvão Fausto Guterres
330-0500 ext. 2016, 7732-6213

DILI, Timor-Leste – With support from the United States, Timor-Leste’s Customs Authority launched its new Customs Hotline today, allowing anyone to report suspicious activities any time of the day or night by calling the free phone number “12200” or by reporting online at www.customs.gov.tl.

As well as helping to protect communities from the importation of narcotics, weapons, and fake medications, the Customs Authority collects state revenue on behalf of the government.  This revenue is vital, and it helps to pay for critical government services such as healthcare, education, and infrastructure.  Despite Timor-Leste having some of the lowest customs tariffs and taxes globally, criminals continue to exploit the country by undervaluing or smuggling goods. This results in the State losing vital revenue and these illegal activities also harm honest businesses that work hard to follow the rules.

“For too long now, criminals have been stealing money that should be used to help fund schools and better infrastructure,” said Jose Abilio, Acting Commissioner of the Customs Authority.  Mr. Abilio went on to assure the public that all calls were anonymous and, “if you contact us, we will act.”

The Minister of Finance, H.E. Rui Augusto Gomes said: “This Customs Hotline facility is a sign of improving the customer service provided by Customs Authority.  I believe with the employment of such an advanced technology, the Customs officers will be able to perform their jobs better–serving our clients in a more efficient and effective manner based upon the rules and regulations–leading to transparency and accountability for revenue collection and administration purposes.”

Minister Gomes also thanked the leadership of the Vice-Minister of Finance, Ms. Sara Lobo Brites, and appreciated the good coordination done by Director-General José Abilio and his team and the support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  “The result of your collaboration is the improved level of our customs services,” Minister Gomes said.

U.S. Ambassador Blackstone reiterated the United States’ support to Timor-Leste’s efforts to prevent corruption and strengthen good governance, commenting that “the new hotline will enable the public to play their part in tackling crime by reporting information freely, securely and anonymously to Customs.”

The new Customs Hotline was made possible as part of the four-year, $8.8 million USAID/Timor-Leste Customs Reform Project.

You can find more information about the Customs Hotline, including a short video clip starring H.E. Dr. Ramos-Horta, by visiting: www.customs.gov.tl.

Last updated: October 13, 2021

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