It’s not that often I agree with the opinion of Salega East Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Va’ai and I’m sure he could care less about me saying so.
And while I am not convinced we should just go ahead and can the Green Lane List system, like many others now that there is obviously a problem, I would like to know more about why it was set up.
And further, how do you qualify to get on it and who monitors it overall?
Is it a lifelong membership?
Do you need to belong to a certain political party or does your business need to be a certain size?
Is it based on the volume of containers you bring in?
And why should some individuals/companies be trusted and others not? It seems that the system is being abused and may well have been fore ages.
What’s the criteria?
Do other countries practice this you’re ok but you’re not?
Obviously this latest example of falsified documents and products which don’t match the manifest, have shown that trust is a relative thing.
Given there have been previous and quite recent examples of drugs and firearms coming into the country, how serious are we really about the matter of border control?
Or are we just serious about it for some companies?
And why do we rely on a front line of Customs Officers, who are able to receive tips for ‘good service’ to hold the line?
And since when do we just keep practices and systems because it has been around ‘for a long time?’
How ridiculous is that?
Bearing in mind that there may well have been other goods that have not been checked, or detected on our borders, but which have simply passed through, let’s have a level playing field and check everyone’s goods.
If it takes a little longer to be fair in the business community, we say too bad.
It is no secret in Apia that several high profile companies “reward” their clients at Christmas and on other significant occasions with extravagant gifts.
Would it be too much of a stretch of the imagination to believe that a hard working Custom’s Officer could be persuaded to look the other way when particular shipments come in?
We are all human so to ensure that temptation doesn’t become a significant factor in everybody being treated fairly, let’s review the Green Lane List system and replace it with a Fair Lane List system where everyone is treated equally.
And to stifle speculation, publish the names of the companies on your Green Lane List system in the interests of those long-forgotten words, transparency and accountability.
Because Mr Minister, it is simply not good enough to tell us that the offender on this occasion will be taken off the list.
The cynics amongst us will probably believe that the company caught is just the tip of the iceberg.