Customs officers' union makes demands ahead of new measures
A customs officer union has called for more manpower and space at checkpoints after the government pledged to step up inspections of people bringing milk formula over the border.
"All our enforcement action will be under the spotlight. So it is putting a lot of pressure on us," said Bernard Lee Kwan-kit, vice-chairman of the Association of Customs and Excise Service Officers, yesterday.
Security chief Lai Tung-kwok had earlier in the day said customs officers would step up inspections, joint operations and intelligence exchanges with their Shenzhen counterparts on suspected parallel traders.
Lee said it was hard to estimate how many extra personnel would be required after all the new measures were implemented, "but it is definitely putting pressure on manpower".
The number of border control officers had not increased much despite a surge in visitor numbers in the past decade, he said.
Lee also said more space was needed at checkpoints to conduct inspections and to store the milk powder that was seized. The union would meet Lai and senior officers to communicate their demands, he said.
Commissioner of Customs and Excise Clement Cheung Wan-ching said Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Lai had promised his department their full support and would provide assistance whenever required.
Officers could spot parallel traders by their facial expressions and the shape of their bags, but it was inevitable for border clearance to take more time in the near future, said Cheung.
Meanwhile, the MTR Corporation's By-laws Inspections Unit said it would add 20 employees to its staff, bringing the total to 59.
This comes ahead of the MTR's measures to tighten the maximum weight for passenger luggage from 32kg to 23kg on the East Rail Line on Monday.
Yesterday, some 22 mainland parallel traders, aged between 22 and 59, were arrested by the Immigration Department in Sheung Shui. The goods seized from them included diapers and baby milk formula.
More than 600 parallel traders have been arrested in the city since September.