The 16th Administrative Meeting of the National Contact Point for the World Customs Organisation (WCO) Regional Intelligence Liaison Office (RILO) East and Southern Africa (ESA), opened this morning at the Regional Training Centre of the Mauritius Revenue Authority, in Port-Louis. The three-day event, being hosted by Mauritius, is focusing on the theme 'Growing our revenue: Plugging leakages through effective intelligence exchange'.
In his address on the occasion, the Acting Director General of the MRA, Mr M. Hannelas, highlighted that Mauritius has been a member of the RILO since 1987, and, through the network has made considerable achievements. The RILO ESA and the National Contact Points, he said, ensure information and intelligence exchange, respond to requests for intelligence and operational support, while facilitating mutual administrative assistance. These help to promote and maintain regional cooperation which is very essential for effective enforcement action to combat contraband and other crimes, he stated.
The Acting Director General of the MRA further pointed out that customs administrations operate in a dynamic and highly complex environment, and emphasised on the need to address the challenges specifically in the ESA region. There is a need, he said, to face on a daily basis, two conflicting challenges of facilitating trade and preventing entry of illicit goods in the country. He dwelt on key issues such as drug trafficking, counterfeit goods, arms trafficking, tax evasion and new emerging threats like money laundering, financing of terrorism, piracy and block chain.
According to him, the exchange of intelligence at national, regional and international levels is a critical mechanism in order to render enforcement actions by Customs authorities more effective. It also plays an important role to address effectively cross border crimes and promote trade facilitation worldwide, he indicated.
Moreover, Mr Hannelas, dwelt on the series of initiatives and projects implemented by the MRA to enhance the efficiency of its customs administration, namely: the introduction of paperless customs declaration, implementation of a web-based customs declaration portal, risk management to target risky containers, and an overhauling of processes and procedures to reduce dwell time through post clearance control, pre-arrival processing and non-intrusive inspection technologies.
As for the Head of the RILO ESA, Mr. S. M. Ncube, he emphasised that the objectives of the meeting are to discuss a wide range of issues geared towards further strengthening the enforcement cooperation, information exchange, and analytical work and WCO CEN Database, amongst others. It is also an opportunity to take stock of the progress, gaps and challenges following the hosting of the last meeting, he said.
The theme of this year's meeting, he pointed out, underpins the need to prioritise reporting, analysis and information sharing on seizures related to tax and duty evasion against the backdrop of the importance of tax revenue in the countries of the region.
WCO RILO network
WCO-RILO-ESA regroups 24 East and Southern Africa countries and has the duties of making strategic analysis on trends, modus operandi, routes of significant cases of fraud. It collects, validates and processes alert and warning messages, and is responsible for information and intelligence exchange, amongst others.
The first regional Intelligence Liaison Office (RILO) was established in 1987 with the intent of creating a Global Intelligence Network. Today, the RILO network counts 11 offices providing effective coverage throughout all six WCO regions.