The Customs and Excise office at Anna Regina in Region 2 with several Customs Officers and many other employees has failed to deal with offences in the district. The most prevalent one is the many unlicensed rum shops in almost every village and even in the town under the nose of the office, from which government derives no revenue.
All because of the unfair competition, some licensed liquor businesses which complied with the payment of revenue can no longer survive and have had to close. Something is definitely wrong somewhere along the line, when illegal shops which pay no revenue whatsoever are allowed to flourish.
There has not been a time when I visited a licensed liquor place to have a peaceful drink, when the proprietors would not complain to me about their predicament which they had brought to the attention of the department without any action being taken. One proprietor related to me that 15 “illegal” rum shops were competing with him and it was just a waste of time to lodge a complaint at the Customs Office.
Although the department is provided with a permanent driver, who appears to sit idle most of the time, raids are seldom executed on the illegal rum shops and worse yet, offenders are not prosecuted.
In years gone by, there was only one Customs Officer stationed in a cramped office at Suddie and from my own knowledge, prompt action was always taken to curb any illegality. During the tenure of the lone officer, many persons were prosecuted for bush rum offences, but nowadays, this illegal spirit is being treated as though it was a licensed commodity.
Apart from regular local consumption in known villages, consignments are made for vessels engaged in the contraband trade