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Loggers under heavy monitor

SOLOMON Islands Customs is keeping a close watch on logging companies as part of minimising the importation of illegal foodstuff and goods.

This follows findings that loggers are bringing in goods and other foodstuff without going through proper declaration process.

In an exclusive interview with this paper, Director of Customs Mr Nathan Kama said his department is taking serious measures to tackle illegal importation activities and that loggers are listed as highly risk contenders of this illegal practice.

He stressed that history has proved loggers are known for snitching illegal goods especially tobacco and canned meat, and this must be stopped.

“Loggers are on our watch list on this issue because we found that most illegal goods are brought into the country by these group of people.

“I cannot rule out other possibilities illegal goods enter the country but our focus is on loggers,” Mr Kama explained.

He said his office has confiscated numbers of goods, especially tobacco, from a number of logging companies as part of minimising illegal importation exercise over the past years.

Mr Kama adds that Customs has also carry out physical examination on every imported goods part of their Risk Management programme.

“If we found that goods are illegal, we will definitely confiscate the goods.

“Recently our officer confiscate illegal tobacco from a Malaysian logging company,” he said.

Meanwhile Mr Kama said Solomon Islands continues to lose huge amounts of money as such illegal practices continue to evade government taxes.

He said those found practising such illegal activities will face the law with hefty penalties as a result.

Mr Kama said his office is working really hard to stop such illegal activities with minimum staffs available to carry out expected duties.

He said such operation needs more manpower and that his department continues to face resource constraint to meet the workforce demand.

Last month, Solomon Island Customs & Excise Division (SICED) successfully stopped an attempt to smuggle 228 sleeves of cigarettes (45,600 rolls) and four new Stihl chainsaws.

A 20-foot container of mixed goods consigned to Soon Enterprise, a logging company, was targeted and then subjected to a 100 percent check as part of SICED risk assessment.

As a result of the search, Customs Officers discovered 228 sleeves of Dunhill cigarettes concealed in boxes professionally labelled as chocolate cakes.

Two representatives from the company were present during the examination.

The shipment was from Malaysia.

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