Customs National Targeting Center (NTC), GTAS and smart border approach
Recently, federal government has designated Customs as a lead border agency for anti money laundering enforcement at borders. The decision has come in backdrop of controlling money laundering and in compliance of the FATF recommendations. The Ministry of interior has notified that border task force shall be led by the Customs having all border law enforcement agencies as its members. In a way Customs has taken up a heavy mandate and responsibility to protect border points from occurrence of transnational crime and curb illegal transfer of currency.
The Customs border task force at Karachi has made significant headway by boarding all lead border agencies towards regular mechanism of sharing information, monitoring borders movement of currency and passengers and coordinating actionable information. Customs border task force has also taken State Bank of Pakistan and the Financial Monitoring unit (FMU) on board for developing an effective anti money laundering operational strategy and plan at all entry and exit border points of country.
Customs strategic positioning at borders and its core functions of clearance of goods gives it pivotal role in facilitating trade and travel of passengers along with developing effective compliance standards which are essential for security of borders and protection of economic interests of country. It is, therefore, quintessential for Customs to take the lead in consolidating and further amplifying the ongoing efforts to ease the flow of goods and people across borders and placing modern control techniques against illegitimate flow of passengers and goods. Therefore, idea of smart border by the WCO that being secure, automated, coordinated, risk management based and technology driven borders is essential for seamless trade, travel, transport and control of illegal movement across borders.
In order to achieve customs enforcement goals of apprehending illegitimate movement of goods and passengers crossing borders in structured manner Customs is regularly improving its system and procedures. The recent addition is establishment of the Customs National Targeting Center (NTC). After successful foundation of the National Single Window (NSW) project by Customs the National Targeting Center (NTC) would be another national mile stone setup with strategic objectives such as protection of economic interest of country, security of legitimate trade and protection of society from transnational crimes.
The project components consist of the security of containerized cargo through establishment of Cargo Targeting Center (CTC), passenger profiling through analysis of Advance Passenger Information (API) and Passenger Name Record (PNR) information through Global Travel Assessment System (GTAS), collating Customs seizures information through National Customs Enforcement Network (N-CEN), integrating Port Control Units (PCUs) and Airport Control Units (ACUs), scaling up the Currency Declaration System (CDS) and integration with the Integrating Border Management System (IBMS).
The National Targeting Center has adopted principles of SMART borders and invisible approach at country’s all air ports and border crossings. The Center is being developed by the methodology of integration of various data bases placed in isolation, adopting Risk based approach at border enforcement by development of passenger and vessel profiling, bringing Invisible approach at airports through back end scanning and deployment of RFID devices, connecting Non Intrusive Inspection (NII) technologies, and extending RMS from clearance to pre clearance and post clearance in case of cargo and passenger movement.
The World Customs Organization (WCO) is extending technical assistance in development of the passenger profiling and targeting system for Pakistan Customs known as Global Travel Assessment System (GTAS). It is a long standing missing link in control of border and organized crimes in Pakistan which will bring Pakistan Customs in row of developed nations in airport and border management techniques. Recent anti money laundering drive due to instability in financial market and cross border cash smuggling has pressed hard for urgent deployment of the system for identification of risky passengers involving in money laundering. The system shall be operating through automated targetable and technology driven risk management system based on the international best practices.
The Global Travel Assessment System (GTAS) shall be demonstrative of the requirements of SMART border such as secure, measurable, automated, risk management-based and technology-driven tool. When in operation, Customs controls at airports will enter into a modern era of technology driven passenger and crew profiling instead of age old staff based profiling. Customs in advance will be having the list and profile of suspected passengers boarding and arriving required for check for transnational offenses, drug indicators, cash couriers, smuggling and other organized crimes.
The NTC and GTAS are visualized as effective technology driven solutions for the control of formidable risks such as money laundering, cross border organized crimes, smuggling and targeting cash couriers. The project will give an edge to Customs in leading border agencies at airports and border check posts. By virtue of technological tools, access to advance passenger and cargo information equipped with techniques of risk management, Customs will be in better strategic position to steer the border enforcement leading towards quick crossing of passengers and cargoes supporting government efforts for better ease of doing business and stability in financial market. [the_ad id=”31605″]