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Contact: Rose Marie Harris

June 9, 1998 - The Government of Saint Lucia and the British Government have forged yet another tie. This time the British government is providing expertise to help with the reformation and modernization of the customs department here.

Last week British High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Mr. Gordon Baker and Acting Prime Minister, Hon. Mario Michel, signed a two year agreement which forms part of the British governments contribution to the Caribbean Drugs Initiative. The aim is to help alleviate the adverse social and economic impact of drugs trafficking within and throughout the region.

The Field Manager, a British Customs Officer will soon be arriving in St. Lucia. He will work with officials for the island’s customs department and other government departments to work out some training programmes. The project is expected to cost in the region of EC $2.3 million. British High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Gordon Baker, says ‘The Project is a significant part of our (the British Government’s’) own effort in this part of the world. I think we all believe that we are determine to work together with the Government of St. Lucia to make this project succeed."

Reforming and modernizing of the customs department is crucial given the critical role of that department in several important areas. Acting Prime Minister, Hon. Mario Michel. says , "the customs department not only serves the policing entity for goods which come in and leave our country, but is also well positioned to police the entry into our country of dangerous drugs which are trafficked through these islands on route mainly to Europe and North America." He went on to add that "the role of the department is also critical in revenue in revenue collection, since about 50% of Government revenue are derived through the customs department."

The Acting Prime Minister expressed St. Lucia’s expectation that over the next two years the project will meet the desired objective of reforming and modernizing the island’s customs service.


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