SUNBIZ

Fiji Revenue & Customs Service Intercepts Island Smuggling

Swift action foiled illegal activities from developing in maritime communities. The Fiji Revenue and Customs Service (FRCS) made the revelation yesterday at the launching of the FRCS 2021 coastal watch
27 Jan 2021 10:19
Fiji Revenue & Customs Service Intercepts Island Smuggling
Front from left, United Nations Development Programme resident representatives Leval Bouadze, Biosecurity Authority of Fiji acting chief executive officer, Surend Pratap, interim CEO for Fiji Revenue and Customs Service, Jonetani Vuto, Australian border force representative in Fiji, Sean Stewart, and Biosecurity Authority of Fiji human resources manager, Salesh Kumarl, cut the cakes to make the launch of the framework. Photo: Frederica Elbourne

Swift action foiled illegal activities from developing in maritime communities.

The Fiji Revenue and Customs Service (FRCS) made the revelation yesterday at the launching of the FRCS 2021 coastal watch programme in Suva, which was held in collaboration. FRCS interim chief executive officer, Jonetani Vuto’s comments come on the heels of an intervention of smuggled goods last week.

According to FRCS, the goods included adults and children’s wear, school bags and imitation jewelries. The launch of the framework was an internal border control achievement in cooperation with the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji and United Nations Development Programme, he said.

“Through this connectivity with the maritime communities, we have received information and intelligence in relation to illicit drugs sightings, international yacht movements around their qoliqoli area, especially outside the yacht season,” Mr Vuto said.

“If it wasn’t for the connectivity with these maritime communities, we would not have known about these activities.”

“If the information and intelligence were not swiftly attended to by FRCS and other partner law enforcement agencies, the social cost implication of illicit drugs would have cost the Fijian government and other regional countries millions, of dollars – that is, if these illicit drugs found its way into our society.”

 

Greater Increased Cooperation Needed
“Fighting transnational crime demanded greater and increased cooperation from all parties concerned, and with this there is greater demand now more than ever before for networking and sharing of intelligence and information.”

“With the coastal watch programme, we partnered with coastal villagers to assist us in monitoring and reporting illegal or suspicious activities along sea and shorelines.”

 

Awareness And Outreach
The programme is an awareness and outreach effort that supports maritime strategy to address border control issues, illegal or suspicious activity around their qoliqoli and within the geographical area, Mr Vuto said.

He called for collective responsibility across agencies and communities. “Since FRCS promotes voluntary compliance, trader and customs brokers involved in inaccurate declarations should expect the full brunt of the law which includes hefty penalties and prosecution.”

Mr Vuto reiterated that all traders and importers must declare all the goods in their consignment adding that failure to do so may incur punitive measures with detention, seizure and forfeiture actions and penalties of up to $25,000.00.

“Alternatively, FRCS may also prosecute offenders involved in fraudulent evasion of duties and taxes and those found guilty may face imprisonment to a maximum of ten years,” he said.

 

Penalty
Customs agents and brokers, who prepare incorrect is also liable to a fine of up to $25,000 or 10 years’ imprisonment.

“Our aim as an institution is to enhance voluntary compliance for tax and customs in Fiji,” Mr Vuto said.

“We have our taxpayer education team that actually goes out and assists business who need assistance.

“We are actively engaging and providing information to individuals, businesses and sectoral agencies, in an effort to encourage and support voluntary compliance.”

 

Feedback: frederica.elbourne@fijisun.com.fj


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