Vice Minister of Finance, Mr. Helder Lopes and accompanied by Mr. Jose Abilio, Director General of Customs and Mr. Julio Ximenes, National Director of Customs, paid a three-day visit to the integrated border Customs offices and various scattered Customs vigilant posts locating along the border with West Timor, Indonesia.
The visits, which took place from the 19th to the 21st of May 2015, began in the integrated border Customs Batugade, then followed by a number of incessant trips to vigilant posts in Mota-ain, Tunubibi, Memo, and Customs regional office in Maliana, Alto Lebos, Salele and eventually ended in Suai.
Apart from controlling the border and inspecting the crossing of people and flowing of goods, border Customs also play other important roles of facilitating commerce, establishing and building relationship and improving good cooperation between Timor-Leste and Indonesia.
During the visits, Vice Minister observed directly the routine works of the Customs, in particular the way people and goods entering and leaving Timor-Leste were processed. Vice Minister was impressed with the good performance of his staffs, which was shown by the amount revenues they collected, despite working with limited resources. Border Customs at Batugade collected a US$ 2.8 million in 2014 and US$ 726 thousands in the first quarter of 2015.
Vice Minister also seized the opportunities to directly observe and listen to the difficulties faced by his staffs on the ground. Lack of resources, both in term of human resources and basic facilities, were raised. They were cited as obstacles that hindering them from performing their jobs efficiently and effectively. In his response, Vice Minister stated that he “took note of all of these concerns” and “will look into them immediately” upon his return into the office. He further added that he “will try his best to ensure the improvement of basic conditions” for his staffs.
During the visits, Vice Minister also paid courtesy visits to the other Ministry of Finance entities such as Statistic (Maliana and Suai), Revenues (Maliana), and Assets (Suai). Vice Minister also had informal meetings with Border Police (UPF), and Quarantine. He asked them to “continue to work together” to better serve the State through their respective roles and responsibilities.