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‘Concerned’: Customs goes 12 years without raise, faces staffing and resource issues

Despite making nearly $20 million in additional revenue in 2018, the Customs Department is still plagued with a number of issues, including the limited availability of resources and an outstanding salary increase for its officers.

This was revealed by Acting Commissioner of Her Majesty’s Customs Leslie Lettsome during the 2019 Standing Finance Committee (SFC) deliberations back in April.

“In 2018, the department was able to bypass its target of $27 million for revenue collection by earning over $43 million. A total of $1.7 million of the total revenue collected came from the environmental levy that was recently implemented,” Lettsome said in the SFC report.

He also shone light on the staffing issues faced by the department, stating that several persons had left following the 2017 hurricanes. He said more were expected to leave due to retirement and other reasons.

The Acting Customs Commissioner also said the law enforcement department continues to face what he describes as challenges at the Cyril B Romney Tortola Pier Park in Road Town.

“It (the park) is an HM Customs-regulated area and there are no facilities for officers to operate from,” the SFC report said while citing Lettsome.

The head of Customs also raised issue that his department has not been given a salary increase although being promised one more than a decade ago.

“There was an agreement in 2007 for the raising of salaries for the staff of the department. However, that agreement was never materialized and it remains a concern,” he said.

Notably, the Virgin Islands Party sat as government from 2007 to 2011. The NDP then took over governance for the last two terms before things came full circle and the VIP retained power under new leadership.

Meanwhile, Acting Customs boss Lettsome also noted some of the good developments which occurred in the department following the 2017 hurricanes that destroyed most of their marine assets.

“The department received a new boat in 2018 and recently received another vessel which had been sent for refurbishing. Two additional boats are expected to be received by year-end, one of which belongs to HM Customs and the other belongs to the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force.”

According to the SFC report, he further said two K9 officers retired in December 2018 while two new K9s were received in February 2019.

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30 Comments

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  1. Tommy says:

    Immigration need a raise also.

    Like 7
    Dislike 6
    • @tommy says:

      agreed!customs and immigration is our first line of defense and cant be neglected but maybe a little bit more disciplined.

  2. Eagle eye says:

    BVI electricity cooperation also.look into it minister.

    Like 8
    Dislike 3
  3. ?? says:

    High court needs a raise also.

    Like 2
    Dislike 8
  4. bvi says:

    none of you all need no damn raise, all you customer services is too poor and you all feel that the government job you holds is your personal job.

    Like 56
    Dislike 7
    • @ BVI says:

      My only wish is that you had written this comment in Bold Capital with an exclamation mark at the end. Well said.

      Like 5
      Dislike 1
    • Dont Generalize says:

      My experience with Custom at Port Purcell is always professional. Irrespective of the poor working conditions that they are facing (no office, noise pollution, etc) they are always ready to help in a time manner.

  5. HA! says:

    So….. you really think those officers not supplementing their income? Should be collecting more in duty! lolz

    Like 3
    Dislike 1
  6. One eye fowl cock says:

    Just retired and need a raise also daaaa

    Like 10
  7. WE Too says:

    What about Hospital. They gave us an increase and then took back all the benefits we use to get. So now that all those oppressive managers are no longer there can we get an increase now or reinstate our benefits please.

    Like 6
    Dislike 1
    • gone where... says:

      Human Resource Manager remains…

    • PHIL says:

      Yearly meritorious increment replaced with one every three years which is just above one increment in the older system. ROBBERY!!!!

    • East says:

      Most of you all down there don’t do squat. But it a government job , sure pay 2xs a month.. The funniest thing , most of allyo are expats, came here cleaning house and washing dishes in restaurant… NO DEGREES, NO QUALIFICATION , just a passport.. Damn, right is right and wrong is wrong, give Jack his jacket.. Don’t get me wrong .. A lot of BVI landers here are teachers, with nothing .. same thing selling food in buses, primary school drop out… Leave that there!!!

      Like 3
      Dislike 1
  8. An Observer says:

    Government workers and employees of Statutory Bodies would be much more effective if they were given raises based on PERFORMANCE. No wonder the customer service is so poor. Many of the employees have rotten attitudes and several of them sit and wait it out for retirement to kick in.

    Stir them up! It’s about time they give the taxpayers value for money.

    Like 26
    Dislike 2
  9. Buzzy Bee says:

    I’m feeling like we’re talking about giving a pay increase to the mafia here. The mob, that’s what it feels like if you have to deal with these leeches.

    The territory’s entire dependence on customs duties to fund the various government slush funds needs to be rethought. government should be looking at cutting or completely getting rid of duty for legit businesses with trade licenses to deal in the products they import. Make our local businesses competitive with the off-island resources.

    Like 11
    Dislike 1
  10. Just a Question says:

    What about PWD employees, doesn’t some of them need a raise too?????

    Like 3
    Dislike 5
  11. You says:

    are not alone. This soldier has done twenty eight (28) having not seen a raise either.

    Yet, so many who are situated within the right places remain devoid of all moral unease and ethical considerations against the malevolent activities of some superiors [past and present] against their subordinates.

    A scourge that is and will continue to affect the progress of this country for decades if not corrected and reversed.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I’m unemployed I need a raise.

    What ayo get increments for?

  13. Re: correction says:

    Get it correct 24 years without a raise of pay,since 1995

  14. Oprah says:

    You get a raise,you get a raise,you get a raise.!

  15. Bull crap!! says:

    The DG/HR people need to put a proper grading scheme together and award top performers in their jobs, the rest get their bare salary even if it means they’re stuck at the same pay for 10 years because of their attitude. This mentality about automatically getting a raise is just downright crazy!

  16. Lodger says:

    These comments seem to confirm that the government service pay system is in complete disarray. We all know that the civil service is loaded with a lot of dead wood. Nevertheless those that are employed should be in a pay system of scales that gives reward for performance, length of service in the grade, and allows for inflation. This may mean that non-performing individuals may reach the top of their pay scale and stay at that level for years. The solution would be in their own efforts. If it is indeed true that some departments have not had raises for many years, and bearing in mind that some individuals may put their own slant on the actual situation, then something is very wrong indeed.

  17. Long Look we come from says:

    Lettsome is a waste of time .. don’t even want to approve their outstanding bills.. People talk bout locals, but locals don’t want their own to strive. He need to be removed. Every local CEO in that department kept the customs employees back… Shameful.. then they want to blame the government.. AH SICK!!! Once them and theirs living good, to H**l with the rest…

    Like 10
  18. while we here says:

    Fire & Rescue need more than just a raise??

  19. Smoke says:

    Pensioners need a raise. Cost of living killing them.

    Like 1
    Dislike 2

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