President of Malta George Vella visited the Scanning Facility within the Container Monitoring Unit of the Customs Department at the Freeport following the recent record seizure of cocaine. The Customs’ Director General, Joseph Chetcuti, introduced the employees to the President and gave the President a tour of the facility. Also present were Minister for Finance and Employment Clyde Caruana, and senior Customs and Freeport officers.
The President greeted and thanked the officers and workers at all levels of the five directorates of the Department, as well as the trained Customs dogs, and said that this visit allowed him to directly appreciate the value and importance of the work they perform: “In recent months I have closely followed the number of successful operations for which, without a doubt, the whole nation thanks you. This is because you are a key component in ensuring and enhancing everyone’s security. Your work is invaluable in enforcing legitimate trade and ensuring a strong and equitable tax system. Ultimately, you also look after the interests of society and of the citizens themselves as your work continues to strengthen the principles of legality, transparency and accountability.”
The President also said that, in the ongoing fight against crime and smuggling, infrastructure and human resources need to be constantly strengthened and renewed. On these two fronts, Maltese Customs has continued to invest consistently in recent years. Thus, he noted with satisfaction that Customs conducted an internal exercise through which it recognised its weaknesses; an exercise that led it to a plan, with ambitious goals in line with its vision. To be able to do so, it needed to change and renew both the structures and the way it worked. It has invested in equipment and learning, and created synergy between the units so that they design and carry out operations together with the aim of eliminating illicit trade, both that destined for our country and other material making transit stops in our country. This has been an organised process that has led, in recent years, to large seizures of drugs, boats intended for human trafficking, Tramadol tablets, and other materials intended for conflict zones, counterfeit goods, tobacco products, alcohol, cash, and others.
The President also praised the Customs Department for how it represents and defends Malta’s priorities at the international level. “The challenges faced by Customs can never be overcome by one country, in isolation. It is therefore crucial, especially in our troubled region, to join groups and alliances that share the same goals.”