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Comptroller of Customs Grenville John retires

Comptroller of Customs Grenville John retires

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Grenville A John has ended his tenure as the longest serving comptroller to be retired in office since the mid 1970s.

On Monday, August 31, he spent his last day in office as Comptroller of the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Customs and Excise Department.{{more}}

“I consider my career to be a long and successful career in Customs and in the public service generally,” he told SEARCHLIGHT.

After serving 35 years as a public servant, he entered his pre-retirement leave last Tuesday, which, according to him, will go into 2016.

Having already received the permission of Service Commission to work during pre-retirement, the Evesham resident said that he plans on opening a practice in both law and customs consultancy (having been called to the bar 15 years ago) — with his office space already secured upstairs the Computec Building.

“I intend to commence this practice in time for the new law term [late September/early October],” he said.

Having joined Customs in 1980 as a junior officer, John took office in every Customs location, both on the mainland and in the Grenadines, before travelling to Trinidad in 1987 to attend the Regional Customs School. Upon his return, he was promoted to senior customs officer that same year. He became one of two enforcement officers in 1992. In 1995, John was promoted to executive officer, and granted study leave in the following year to pursue a degree in Law at the University of London.

In 1999, John graduated with a Bachelor of Law (Hons) degree, and further pursued studies at the BPP Law School, thus becoming a full member of the honourable society of the Inner Temple in London.

Upon successful completion of the Bar Vocational Course, he was called to the Bar of England and Wales, and was later called to the Bar of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on October 3 that same year as a barrister-at-law and solicitor of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (SVG circuit).

After being assigned to the chambers of Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Dr Henry Brown (of St Kitts), he prosecuted cases for the duration of one year (2000 – 2001).

Following this he was assigned to the offshore authority now called the International Financial Services Authority, as the Commissioner of International Insurance in 2001 where he spent a total of three and a half years.

John was a recipient of the prestigious Chevening Scholarship, which he used to pursue a Master’s in Banking and Finance Law at the Queen Mary College.

He began his term as comptroller in 2004, and served for 11 years with the purpose of leading during its reform and modernization programme.

“I think I have been successful in modernizing the Customs — that is the mandate that I was brought back here as comptroller to do, and I think I have achieved that,” he stated.

John further pointed out that according to the latest World Bank business report, Customs in SVG is leading in the area of customs efficiency in the entire OECS.

“That in itself speaks volumes!”

John has represented Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Customs and Excise Department both regionally and internationally as comptroller, and has served on many regional and subregional committees and is the chair of the OECS Customs Committee on free circulation of goods within the OECS Customs Economic Union.

He mentioned that one of his high points during his career was the implementation of the management programmes Asycuda ++ in 2007, and Asycuda World in 2013, that in turn automated the entire customs system from the manifest stage down to the release of goods.

Additionally, the World Bank has recognized that Customs SVG has most of the features promoted by international organizations — namely, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the World Customs Organization.

John, who has been an executive member of the Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council for almost 10 years, says his advice is sought throughout the region on legal matters relative to Customs operations.

John told SEARCHLIGHT that he is satisfied that he is leaving Customs in a better position than he met it in 2004.

He also mentioned that revenue collection has increased by over $44 million between 2004 and 2014, and also said that training has been institutionalized in Customs under his tenure.

The retiring comptroller received messages wishing him well on his retirement from regional Customs colleagues, and both deputy comptrollers Irwina Phills and Samuel Thomas, along with other managing officers, expressed positive reflections on working with John over the years.

John’s parting advice to his former employees, and all public sector workers, is to be as professional as possible and have high integrity.

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