The Maldives Customs Service yesterday celebrated 120 years of operation at a special function at the Dharubaaruge exhibition hall in Male’.
The event, attended by Vice President Mohamed Waheed, was held to commemorate the work of Customs officials in the country as well as to launch a Strategic Plan from next year that will outline the department’s work up to 2013.
Alongside playing a ‘big role’ in matters of national security and drug prevention, the Vice President also claimed that the expansion of the service to a number of regions around the country has been a vital contributor to wider development issues, particularly in terms of the economy.
Speaking at the ceremony, State Minister for Home Affairs Mohamed Aswan, acting head of customs, said that promoting public confidence in customs services and “improving the public image of customs” would be a main priority in the coming year.
According to local daily Haveeru, Aswan said that a number of reforms will also be made to change procedures, apply risk management principles in all sectors and introduce information technology facilities.
Aswan revealed that changes will be made in valuation for import duties when a customs bill currently before parliament is passed to adhere to valuation agreements with the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Established in 1890, Maldives Customs currently has over 700 staff in eight regional offices. It became a member of the World Customs Association in September 1995.