Suva, Fiji, August 31, 2020– Customs officers are often seen as gatekeepers and not as important economic contributors even though they help in facilitating trade in an economy, newly appointed OCO Enforcement Advisor, Mohammed Ajaz says.
“The public fails to recognise the importance of a customs officers’ contribution to the well-being of the society and the nation as a whole,” Mr Ajaz says. The Fijian national joins OCO with over 21 years of professional experience from the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service, where he initially served as a senior customs officer in 1999 and working up the ranks to the position of manager audit compliance.
“Though the borders are closed because of COVID-19, it is important that we continue to build the capacity of our members in modernising customs administrations and keeping them abreast with the changing global environment,” Head of OCO Secretariat, Richard Brennan says. “Mr Ajaz’s expertise will complement the already existing skill set within OCO, and overall achieve our objective in meeting the needs of our members.”
Mr Ajaz adds that a customs officer enables and fosters a conducive environment for business growth and eventually leverage a nation’s Gross Domestic Product(GDP) when facilitating trade at the borders.
“Customs officers’ efforts to implement the articles of conventions drawn by World Customs Organisation (WCO), World Trade Organisation (WTO) and affiliated partners, must be recognized as a smart contribution to an economy,” he says. With his vast experience, Mr Ajaz also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics & Management and Public Administration and a Postgraduate Diploma for General Managers from the University of the South Pacific.
“My motivation to join OCO had been my interest to serve my region in capacity building. As an enforcement advisor for the OCO Secretariat, I will have the opportunities to share my skills and knowledge through training and awareness programs,” Mr Ajaz says.
As an enforcement advisor, Mr Ajaz’s role will provide advice on the needs of OCO members in the areas of law enforcement and border security.
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About OCO: OCO is a grouping of 23 customs administrations in the Oceania region. It facilitates regional cooperation, information sharing and capacity building of its members with the overall target of supporting economic growth and improved border security in the Pacific.