President Panuelo Strengthens Customs Inspection of Imports Through Administrative Directive

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—Through a recent Administrative Directive, His Excellency David W. Panuelo—President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)—has instructed the Department of Finance & Administration to further enhance the Nation’s border protection to detect undeclared and illegal imports.

The Directive instructs the Customs & Tax Administration to take “aggressive steps and actions” to ensure proper inspection of shipping containers for high-risk businesses that import cigarettes, and alcohol, and for the Government to identify ways to improve tracking of interstate movement of tobacco and other drugs. It is the intention of the Government that an “actual inspection of verification” occur for any and all high-risk containers, either to ensure appropriate revenue is collected (in the case of tobacco and alcohol) and that illegal items are confiscated and destroyed (in the case of various firearms etc).

For Fiscal Year 2021, the FSM’s combined Customs & Revenue Collections on cigarettes has been $342,112.50 in the State of Chuuk compared to $421,607.60 in the State of Yap and $1,946,508.56 in the State of Pohnpei. Juxtaposing this public information, with additional information known to the FSM National Government, gives the Government reason to believe that the enforcement of laws already on the books will increase revenue and ensure that businesses are able to more freely compete with one another as all businesses follow the same rules.

The Directive requires the Department of Justice to provide protective assistance to the Department of Finance & Administration, including mutual coordination during shipping container inspections.

“The overarching goal behind this Directive is to strengthen the rule of law in our country,” President Panuelo said in a statement. “The FSM is a Nation of laws. No person or organization can be above them. We are all equal in the eyes of the law, and our responsibility as Government is to make sure those eyes are where they need to be. This is a win-win situation where, by increasing enforcement, we are also increasing national revenue—which funds essential services that our citizens benefit from every day. Additionally, enforcing the laws already on the books helps to level the private sector playing field.”