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Budget 2004: Customs capability enhanced

Hon Rick Barker
Minister of Customs

Customs capability enhanced

Budget 2004 will boost the New Zealand Customs Service's ability to monitor our borders, says Customs Minister Rick Barker.

"The $5 million boost to Customs for sea and air border security will enable closer scrutiny of arriving commercial ships, crews and air passengers," Rick Barker said.

"The budget package includes a new Passenger Analysis Unit (PAU) that will analyse advanced passenger information received from airlines. The PAU will enable Customs to identify people of potential interest based on a variety of factors that could indicate risks to New Zealand, such as drug smuggling. Unit trials have been very positive and resulted in the identification and handling of some significant drug control and immigration issues.

"Better passenger information provided by the PAU will improve Customs' effectiveness in targeting vessels and aircraft considered high risk.

"The surge in arrivals to and departures from New Zealand over the last decade - from just over two million in 1993-94 to 3.6 million in 2002-03 - plus the increase in international terrorism and trans-national crime threats to New Zealand make it imperative that Customs is well-resourced.

"Customs will increase its airport and marine staff by around 25 per cent, allowing all commercial shipping to be boarded for Customs evaluation, in addition to those boarded for searching," Rick Barker said.

ENDS

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