AN INTERVIEW WITH SALVADOR JACOBS, OCO CHAIR AND FSM HEAD OF TAX AND CUSTOMS DIVISION
If he is not busy as head of the Tax and Customs Division in the Federated States of Micronesia, Salvador Jacobs would be out fishing with families and friends. Or you would find him playing baseball. But the current Oceania Customs Organisation chairman is a typical family man, who loves to spend time with his wife, four daughters and son and four grandchildren. Jacobs was appointed as head of the customs and tax administration in 2013.
What is the best part of your job?
Being team leader of this division. Every day, it is imperative that we work together as a team to accomplish tasks and on time. We are more effective as a division when we work together as a team. I enjoy leading the team not only in Pohnpei but in other states as well. If a leader is not doing well, then it will show in the overall performance of the division. For me, the best part of the job is leading the team during these challenging times in FSM.
What is your vision for your customs administration?
As the world develops and with technology becoming more relevant in our work, my vision is to modernize the Tax and Customs Division here in FSM so we can perform our roles better in collecting more revenue, facilitating trade and protecting our borders.
How has COVID-19 changed the way your administration operates?
Like the world all over, COVID-19 has changed a lot of things here in FSM. Our borders are closed, and we are not allowing any incoming passengers to disembark. That has come at a cost- our revenues are decreasing because we no longer have tourism. That also has impacted businesses and resulted in unemployment. It’s changed a lot of things, but we are trying to make sure that our citizens are safe and that the COVID-19 virus doesn’t enter the country.But we are trying to work with businesses,facilitating trade as we face one of the most trying times not only in FSM but the world all over.
What are some of the critical challenges your administration faces apart from the COVID-19pandemic?
I mentioned earlier that I wanted to modernise our Tax and Customs Administration. We are still using the basic trade system in FSM, which needs to be upgraded.
It was good once, but we need to move with time, towards automation and OCO is assisting us to upgrade to a system that is more effective.
We would like to move towards automating our processes.
We are also trying to update our customs and tax legislations, some of which are outdated. We are also working towards being compliant with the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC), which is regarded by the international Customs community as a blueprint for modern Customs in the 21st Century.
If you were not the head of the customs, what would be your ideal job?
A tax auditor. I started as a manager of the Tax Audit and Compliance Division, if I was not the head of the Tax and Customs Division, I really want to go back and do more in tax auditing and get more experience working with businesses.
I think that’s my ideal job. That’s my plan- if I am not the head of the Tax and Customs division, I would be working with tax audit team in FSM, in this division or in the Pohnpei State and also work with other apprentices in the other states, because I believe this is one of the areas that we really need to improve on.