Mauritius: Customs Officers Empowered to Track Down Illegal Trade of Substances

A two-day workshop geared on Capacity Building of Customs Officers on Tracking of Illegal Trade of Substances Controlled under the Montreal Protocol opened this morning at the Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA) Regional Training Centre – Custom House, Mer Rouge, Port Louis. The Minister of Environment, Sustainable Development, and Disaster and Beach Management, Mr Jayeshwur Raj Dayal, and the Director General of the MRA, Mr Sudhamo Lal, amongst others were present at the launching ceremony.

The main objectives of this training will be attained through enhanced capacity building of Customs Officers in tracking down illegal trade of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS); and facilitating the networking and synergizing efforts among countries in the region in the fight against the illegal trade of ODS.

In his address, Minister Dayal recalled that this capacity building programme is one of the main components of the Hydro-chloro-fluorocarbon Phase-out Management Plan which is presently being implemented by his Ministry and other relevant stakeholders.

Mauritius is party to the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The objective of this Protocol is to assist countries to decrease and eliminate the use of ozone depleting substances such as Chlorofluorocarbons and Hydro-chloro-fluorocarbons, which are widely used in sectors like refrigeration, air-conditioning, aerosol and fumigation.

The Minister outlined that the ability of Customs Officers to intervene promptly and effectively to address illegal trade of ODSs is considered as a determining success factor in meeting the obligations of the Montreal Protocol

Furthermore, in a bid to ensure sustainability of this capacity building initiative, the Ministry of Environment, Sustainable Development, and Disaster and Beach Management and the MRA signed today a Memorandum of Understanding to ensure that issues pertaining to control of ODSs are included in the training curriculum of Customs Officers. Newly recruited Customs Officers are trained on the control of ODSs and refresher courses are carried out on regular basis for all Customs Officers; and equipment handed to the MRA are efficiently used and maintained.

For his part, Mr Lal pointed out that, in a spirit of continuous improvement, the MRA is constantly reassessing its operations in order to obtain a more appropriate balance between the competing objects of enforcing Customs laws and collecting revenue while at the same time playing a pivotal role in facilitating trade.

He rejoiced that investment in capacity building initiatives in the context of the ongoing Customs Reform and Modernisation Programme has, over past years, positively impacted on the country’s performance. On that score, Mr Lal cited the 13th rank which Mauritius occupies on ‘Trading Across Borders’ index in the World Bank survey on Doing Business in 2016.

Source: Africa Focus