9 Sep 2020

Surveillance to ramp up at ports with $50m cash boost for Customs

6:53 pm on 9 September 2020

The government is ramping up customs surveillance at the country's ports, with the promise of a $50 million injection.

Tauranga Port, Bay of Plenty, with Mount Maunganui in the background.

Photo: Linda McKie / 123RF

Minister for Customs Jenny Salesa said the deal signed off by Cabinet would allow Customs to deploy 300 people at all international maritime ports.

"This is a significant investment in our ongoing efforts to keep all New Zealanders safe," Salesa said.

Customs is one of the government agencies working with the Ministry of Health and Defence Force to enforce the current Covid-19 border orders.

Salesa said the money would ensure there were more staff to protect the country's maritime border. It includes $40m in new funding and $10m in contingency.

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Minister for Customs Jenny Salesa. Photo: RNZ Pacific / Sela Jane Hopgood

So far, Customs has been redeploying staff from within to the sea ports, she said.

"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.

"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."

In July 2020, 277 commercial vessels arrived at New Zealand's ports, with about 5700 crew on-board.

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