Reese ready to continue at Customs
THE MAN credited with the radical transformation and development of the Jamaica Customs Agency, whose employment contract comes to an end on October 31, is putting out an early signal to his employers that he is “always available to serve”.
Major Richard Reese, who started his stint in May 2012 on a three-year contract as commissioner of customs, has been the overseer of the agency which has surpassed collection targets multiple times, the latest being the June quarter this year.
Reese, who had to reapply for the top job as chief executive officer in 2013 when Jamaica Customs became an executive agency, told The Gleaner that he was leaving it up to the financial secretary and the finance minister to determine his fate and future at the agency.
“I am a person who provides my services and I leave the assessment of my performance and determination to my employers,” he told The Gleaner after a commission ceremony of six vehicles at the agency’s headquarters in Kingston last Friday.
Having served as a commissioned military officer in the Jamaica Defence Force for 13 years and a former director general of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, Reese said he has never been in the business of appraising himself, but pointed out that his biggest accomplishment at Jamaica Customs Agency is the implementation of the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA).
The customs boss added he was proud of “the information technology platforms and initiatives ... . Not only to go paperless, but to facilitate trade and enhance revenue”.
But despite numerous other achievements, Reese appears not to be done with Customs.
Were he to be given another stint as head of the profitable agency, he says he would want to complete the agency’s reform agenda. He also said he would implement “state-of-the-art fixed and mobile cargo X-ray machines with realtime remote monitoring and image capture on ASYCUDA, full integration of computers and ASYCUDA, and complete [the] human resource automation project.”
Reese told The Gleaner he would also seek to establish a new custom house in Montego Bay, St James, and implement a fully automated broker licence application and testing system all aimed at increasing compliance and accountability at the agency.
Also on his to-do list is to implement agile and responsive strategies, pre-empting the agency’s competing markets globally.
Finance Minister Audley Shaw, Reese’s boss, has never been shy about acknowledging the achievements of the agency under Reese, but had earlier this year demanded that the agency increase its revenue by 40 per cent.
Reese claims he is up to the task. He said that achieving the target set by the finance minister is a work in progress which he will seek to achieve over time.
His vision of completing these farreaching projects could fade away come the end of the month, but, according to Reese, “organisations, including Customs are dynamic. I inherited business plans, I inherited strategies, so even if [I leave], the same would apply [for anyone taking over from me]”.
When The Gleaner contacted Shaw on the likelihood of Reese’s contract being renewed, he said he was not able to comment on the issue at this time.