Extra funding for Customs to further protect maritime border

 Extra funding for Customs to further protect maritime border
The Government is providing a funding boost to Customs to employ more staff to expand border surveillance, further strengthening the Government’s defence against Covid-19, Customs Minister Jenny Salesa announced today. “Cabinet has agreed to a $50 million funding boost for the New Zealand Customs Service to further support its 24/7 on-the-ground presence at all international maritime ports.  This is a significant investment in our ongoing efforts to keep all New Zealanders safe,” Jenny Salesa said. Customs is the lead government agency – working closely with the Ministry of Health, New Zealand Defence Force and other agencies – to enforce the Order, which helps to protect New Zealand from the risk of COVID-19 entering the country at the maritime border. “Customs has been doing a great job staffing the maritime border 24/7, more recently with assistance from New Zealand Defence Force personnel,” Jenny Salesa said. “To date, Customs has been able to redeploy staff from within the organisation to the sea ports. This includes sea border workers seconded to the Maritime Order, and airport staff due to the drop in international travel. However increasing the overall level of staff at the sea ports demonstrates the Government’s commitment to standing up a permanent and long term system of defence to keep Covid out. “The $40 million in new funding, with another $10 million in a contingency funding, will allow Customs to deploy the around 300 people necessary to provide services at all New Zealand seaports and to coordinate and support that nationwide operation. “While ports represent a lower risk than some other border-facing facilities the Government is   nevertheless taking it seriously. This will ensure there are more Customs staff to protect our maritime border, while also allowing Customs to continue its other important work, such as protecting New Zealand from illicit drugs, facilitating trade and travel, and collecting Crown revenue. “The Government has run tight border restrictions to prioritise the return of New Zealanders and ensure that COVID-19 does not enter New Zealand via the maritime border.“We are now in a position to make some adjustments to our settings to resource this intensive, but extremely important Customs work,” Jenny Salesa says.ENDSInformation for media:More than 2,100 commercial vessels (excluding cruise ships) arrive in New Zealand annually.These are mainly container and bulk cargo vessels, but also fishing boats and specialist vessels.Most commercial vessels spend no more than seven days in New Zealand, with crew stay on board the vessels.In July 2020, 277 commercial vessels arrived at New Zealand’s ports, with about 5,700 crew on-board. This is similar to pre-COVID-19 vessel numbers. 

Media contact: Julie Jacobson 021 806 085

Peter Stevens Press Secretary |Office of Hon Kris Faafoi MP

Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Minister of Immigration, Minister of Government Digital Services, Associate Minister of Housing

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