Castries, Saint Lucia January 27th, 2016 – The Saint Lucia Trade Export Promotion Agency (TEPA) has recently presented a “Standard Operating Procedures” manual to the Saint Lucia Customs and Excise Department on January 26th, 2016.
The Saint Lucia Customs and Excise Department has a mandate of trade facilitation, revenue collection and border protection consistent with many Customs organizations worldwide. These directives are equally significant in other developing countries where Customs organizations serve as the gate keepers of their country. Trade facilitation is necessary as the organization conforms to international trade requirements. The Department’s revenue collection ability significantly impacts the country’s overall economic and social development, whilst its’ border protection is critical for filtering prohibited and restricted imports from the society and for restricting illegitimate trade and trading practices.
Customs is responsible for collecting approximately 50% of government’s total revenue. It is therefore imperative that it strives to maintain the highest standards when interacting with its stakeholders. Consequently, it remains cognizant of the role of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) in the execution of its daily operational activities.
The apparent lack of clearly defined SOPs within the department is a derivative of many factors. As the department moves towards conforming to best practices within the global trading environment and improving efficiency, the adoption of Standard Operating Procedures is a timely venture. It will highlight the explicit instructions to reflect the Customs Strategic Business Plan 2013 – 2018 and the new organizational structure soon to be implemented, with the modus operandi reflecting consistency in conformity with departmental policy and transparency.
The public and other stakeholder agencies demand the highest standards. Customs officers have been entrusted with the responsibility of revenue collection, which is the primary role of the department, and so the public demands accountability. Hence, through enforcement, verification, examinations, intelligence and compliance, the Department has been consistent in making significant contribution to the annual national budget.
The Customs & Excise Department has for a number of years now relied heavily on circulars, organizational directives and the “status quo” in relating processes and procedures to provide guidance for staff. The implementation of SOP within the Department will seek to obtain consistency, clarity, transparency, uniformity and standardization in the execution of various tasks for the entire department in addition to ensuring that approval procedures are followed in compliance with the department’s direction and legal provisions.
Towards this end, TEPA embarked on the project spearheaded by the Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards to provide the Customs & Excise Department with a concise “Standard Operating Procedures” (SOP) manual, which highlights explicit instructions for the successful accomplishment of its specific goals in the Customs Strategic Business Plan 2013 – 2018. This will promote consistency, transparency, professionalism, public trust, moral authority and accountability.