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EDITORIAL: A-G Commended For Tough Action Over FRCA’s Problem Child

EDITORIAL: A-G Commended For Tough Action Over FRCA’s Problem Child
October 06
10:30 2015

The recent complaint and subsequent investigations into Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority’s customs arm has highlighted the shenanigans that have been going inside those Customs offices.

The spotlight is now on the department as the blowtorch is applied to find out what really is going on. It’s like opening a new can of worms.

While other FRCA departments can be applauded for their work, Customs has always been a problem child of the Authority and has stuck out like a sore thumb.

And, this raises some serious concerns, given the vulnerability that may exist at our borders just because a few customs officers are willing to look the other way for a quick buck.

While many of our customs officers are honest, there are a few who turn a blind eye to customs violations.

And, there are of course repercussions of this on our economy and security.

As Attorney-General and Minister for Finance Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum pointed out, the revenue collected from domestic spending in no way tallies with what has been earned at our borders. Meaning value of goods at our borders have been understated, meaning less duty is being paid, somebody somewhere is making money, which should rightfully come into Government coffers.

Everyone of us has a funny tale to share about Customs. But, there is nothing funny about such acts. There is nothing funny about Customs officers deliberately changing tariff codes which results in importers paying less.

It is fraud and it is wrong. Mr Sayed-Khaiyum has also appealed to business houses to refrain from giving bribes. But, while every business house is out to save a dollar, should it be done at the expense of other Fijians? Should it be done at the expense of the nation’s development?

Those customs officers who indulge in these activities should be taken to task. They compromise the integrity of FRCA and cast aspersions on it as an institution.

Perhaps with Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption on their case, the officers will realise the effects of their actions.

Kudos to Government and Mr Sayed-Khaiyum for taking a strong stand against corruption and doing something about such customs officers- something that everyone talked about but nobody did anything about it.

His message should go to all civil servants who are involved in collecting revenue for the Government in the various departments.

Every dollar collected goes a long way towards national development. Think about those Fijians who do not have access to proper roads, piped water and electricity. They are waiting for Government to provide these services. To carry out the developments, Government needs the revenue to pay for the costs.



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