CARTAC hosted the first World Customs Organization (WCO) sub-regional donor meeting to be held in the Caribbean. The meeting took place in the CARTAC office in Barbados from October 15 to 17, 2012. The meeting was chaired by the WCO Vice-Chair for the Americas and Caribbean and was attended by representatives of the CARTAC Revenue Administration Team, WCO Capacity Building Directorate, Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council (CCLEC), Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), World Bank (WB) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
The principal objective of the meeting was to improve the coordination of donor-funded technical assistance programmes across the region in order to maximize value for money. Presentations were delivered by CARTAC’s Resident Customs Administration Advisor, the Technical Officer of the WCO Capacity Building Directorate, the Permanent Secretary of CCLEC, the Director of the CBSA (International Affairs and Partnerships), the First Secretary (Development) of CIDA, the Trade Logistics Specialist of the IFC, the Economic Advisor DFID Caribbean and the WB Senior Public Sector Specialist.
In addition to the presentations delivered the agenda included discussions on current donor projects, Customs initiatives in the region, the benefits and challenges of collaboration with a view to reducing duplication in effort, sharing of information arising from technical assistance missions, Customs training modules and e-learning, barriers to capacity building and sustainability, risk management, strategic planning, Revenue Package programme, Columbus programme, integrity and transparency, Partnership in Customs Research and Development (PICARD), Regional Clearance System (RCS) for small vessels, WCO/CCLEC Joint Intelligence Office (JIO) and the Caribbean Enforcement Network (CEN).
The forum agreed the way forward on a number of issues including:
- Closer working relationships between CARTAC, the WCO and CCLEC through regular communication (video conferences and informal meetings);
- Convening annual meetings and widening the base of stakeholders to include other donors with regional interests not present at the inaugural meeting;
- Improving Customs Administrations’ awareness of the various training tools available to them;
- Exploring tri-partite (CARTAC, CCLEC, WCO) regional training initiatives such as leadership and management and officer induction courses; and
- The WCO and CCLEC to participate in the CARTAC driven Regional Investigation and Fraud Awareness course planned for April 2013.
A video conference as a follow-up to this inaugural meeting is to take place in January 2013 and will be organized jointly by CCLEC and the WCO.