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Retired customs officer speaks out...

Published: 
Thursday, November 16, 2017

A retired customs officer is of the view that there are objections to the TTRA because of concerns about possible “political interference and jobs for the boys.”

He said security of tenure is the major concern for all officers because the 2009 model of the TTRA had only offered contract positions. The current model proposes to appoint a board and CEO.

“It is being viewed as political partisanship and they believe the board will include members of the business community who will be seeking their own interest,” he said.

Asked whether the TTRA can work in the local landscape, the retiree said: “An organisation is driven by workers but if you have people who are dissatisfied, they are not going to give of their best. Staff morale is not going to be high and one will have to look at the correlation between favouritism and victimisation.”

He agreed that overtime and special allowances for officers could be influencing opposition to the new entity.

According to the retired customs officer, there are at least 100 vacancies each for customs officers and customs guards. He said once these posts are filled there will be more officers to “go out and do the necessary work.”

He said managers also need to be more accountable for the performance of workers in their respective departments as this would dispel the public perception that the entity and its employees are corrupt.

He called on business owners and members of the public to report corrupt customs officers and for the Comptroller of Customs and Police Commissioner to investigate any and all such complaints to maintain the integrity of the organisation.

In 2001, senior customs officer Carl De Souza was shot and killed outside his home at Auzonville Road, Tunapuna.

It is believed that De Souza, 57 at the time of his death, was targeted because of his work. He was the third highest ranking officer and headed the valuations department and had received several death threats.

Officers claimed De Souza had been marked for death because he refused to bow to the demands of several unscrupulous individuals. He had cases pending before the courts where he had charged businessmen for giving wrong valuations on imported property contrary to the Customs Act.

Following a 13-month investigation, the police arrested a Valsayn import/export businessman in 2003.