2 Dec 2005

New Zealand helps Tongan customs

10:20 am on 2 December 2005

New Zealand and Australia have responded to the Tongan government's call for help to clean up its Custom Service and claw back at least US$20 million in lost duty.

Customs officers have been failing to charge the right revenue on items from cigarettes to cars.

The Tongan Labour Minister, Fred Sevele, says his government wants the Customs service's integrity back as well as the right revenue from all imports.

The NZ Aid's Pacific Group team leader, Sandra Hamilton, says its US$350,000 contribution is a staff member, computers and a boat plus training and governance.

"It's really organisational development from the ground up and the top down. They're wanting to look at areas of the Tonga customs service including the investigation compliance and border management."