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Customs proving they're prepared, precise & proud

08 October 2004

Customs proving they're prepared, precise & proud

A $16 million increase in funding last year combined with the strength of the formidable NZ Customs team is paying off for New Zealanders, Customs Minister Rick Barker said today.

The Customs Service Annual Report for the 2003-2004 financial year has been tabled today and the Customs Minister says he is confident that Customs staff are doing an excellent job to protecting our borders from increased drug trafficking and says he is impressed they efficiently processed a record 8.728 million air travellers over this period.

"I am proud of the New Zealand Customs team, who've excelled in a time where they've had to 'up the ante' as transnational crime syndicates are increasingly targeting New Zealand, and countries are moving to tighten security around their trade and travel channels," he said.

"In 2003/04 there was a 54 per cent increase over the previous year in the number of serious transnational crime cases investigated here. And there's been a more than 500 per cent increase in seizures of counterfeit and pirated goods over the last 5 years.

"The Prime Minister has told me she is pleased with the developments Customs have implemented and expects further progress on supply chain security over the next year."

The 22 per cent increase in funding from 2002-2003 has meant Customs can proactively investigate high-level and complex drug activity and transnational organised crime, and can implement initiatives that will enhance their ability to protect New Zealand's border.

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"The message is clear, this government is not only getting on the front foot in the new security climate, but has its boots on and is gearing up to receive more tourists whilst stamping on drug traffickers," Mr Barker said.

The Minister says the highlights of the annual report are the government's investment in a new Passenger Analysis Unit, $5.5 million for more border control staff at the airports, and the purchase of new non-invasive inspection technology in a major $20 million acquisition programme.

ENDS

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