QUITTING FROM DISCUSSIONS
Posted on January 23rd, 2017

Al l Ceylon Customs Service Union.

We oppose to abolish the Customs Ordinance and to enact a new Act with reasons. As soon as the minister presented the budget for the year 2016 with the proposal to enact a new Customs Act, we wrote to the president and pointed out the danger of abolishing the Customs Ordinance and requested him to remove the proposal (The copy attached).Thereafter when the trio; Mr Somarathne, Mr Weerasekara, Mr Kananathalingam; presented there draft proposal for a new Customs Act in June 2016, we again wrote to the president and requested him to intervene the matter.

In the meantime the Staff Officers’ Union, The Customs Superintendents Union and the Customs Officers’ union formed the ‘Customs Unions Unity’ and launched a campaign against abolishing the Customs Ordinance. We repeatedly requested them to include the rest of the unions too to the unity, but our request was turned down by some union leaders with harsh words like “We choose activities and anybody, who is willing to, can join them”

So we were forced to form a separate union unity to fight against abolishing the Customs Ordinance. That was how the “Reguwa Surakeeme Sanwidhanay” came into effect with the participation of four unions from Customs and one wharf union.  We started an awareness program aiming at the general public whose opinion is not in favor of us. We carried out an island wide poster campaign and distributed a leaflet too. We also had several press releases. Then we launched a petition signing campaign. But we could not accomplish it because some misled members within the unity itself abandoned it, complaining that we are working to a political agenda.

Though the petition signing campaign was a failure, it influenced the leaders of the Unions Unity to form a new unity called “Customs Trade Unions Alliance” including all unions in the Customs. So, forgetting about the bitter past, we joined the Customs Trade Union Alliance and did our best in the campaign against abolishing the Customs Ordinance. Then the work-to-rule campaign started and the minister offered discussions to the unions. The idea of the “symposium” forwarded from the unions and the minister grabbed it.

So we had two symposiums, including the customs administration, the trade unions and the stake holders in the Kingsbury hotel at the expense of the Customs Management fund. At the first symposium the stake holders were allowed to present their grievances. So they did. And at the second symposium their grievances were answered. We found that with several changes to the Customs Ordinance and some procedural changes would meet their grievances.

After about two months’ lapse we were invited for a two day workshop at the Galle Face hotel. With the invitation we were given a 94 page document written by the Customs Ordinance Amendment Committee appointed by the DG. The committee is comprised of six members and the document written by them has been named as “Proposal for a New Customs Act” .We got it on Tuesday and we had been asked to produced our proposals regarding the document two days prior to the workshop which was to be held on Saturday and Sunday. As we had no enough time even to read document in depth we went to the workshop empty handed and we were just on lookers there.

The entire workshop was handled by Mr. Raj Mohan and we found that the document was totally based on the new international Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) with the WTO. According to our knowledge WTO is a cat’s paw of the American imperialism that has been looting the countries like ours all around the world pushing billions of people to ignorance, hunger and death. We kindly request you to evaluate the disastrous effects the country has been undergoing due to the amendments made to the valuation chapters (51 & 52)  according to the WTO ‘s command.

Though the writers say their writing is a “historical document” we saw that some members of the panel itself raised their voice against certain proposals in it. The panel of writers had had no any idea about the results of the two symposiums held before.

While we were discussing all these contradictions among ourselves and preparing a detailed letter to the DGC, we got the invitation for today’s workshop. It of course is a command rather than an invitation.  The invitation letters’ heading contradicts with its’ content. While the heading says about a workshop to produce amendments to the customs ordinance the content says about the disagreed matters in the earlier workshops.

All these happenings made us ponder about these symposiums and workshops again and again. The Hon. Minister of Finance, having being crowned as “the best” in South Asia for borrowing 1500 billion dollars from the IMF (another cat’s paw of the American imperialism), must be in quite a hurry to show his loyalty to the American imperialism by removing the barriers they have due to the strong rulings in the Customs Ordinance and become ‘the best” (…?) in the world.

Therefore, taking all these into consideration,  our executive committee decided to quit these bogus discussions heading towards a new Customs Act that facilitate the racketeers to suck the country’s wealth and thrive themselves. We also decided to continue the campaign against abolishing the Customs Ordinance.

Thank you,

Yours faithfully
J.A Gunathilaka

Secretary
Al l Ceylon Customs Service Union.

Copies  The Minister of Finance.
All unions
All media

 

2 Responses to “QUITTING FROM DISCUSSIONS”

  1. Sirih Says:

    I would say custom fat cats does not want properly documented web based custom duty system since these fat cats illegal bribe trail will be gone.
    These guys have meetings in 5 star hotels? That it self will tell you how corrupt this existing system is..

    Customs act need to change so that duty revenue should be transparent and not run by the corrupt DG’s. Don’t defend these highly corrupt mafia inside customs.

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    Sirih has a good point!

    The Customs is indeed a Blackmail MAFIA and Law unto themselves!

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