Chargé d’Affaires Colleen Hyland Opening Remarks at the CLDP Workshop on Government Ethics

Chargé d’Affaires Colleen Hyland Opening Remarks at the CLDP Workshop on Government Ethics, February 22, 2017

Good morning. It is a pleasure to be here today.

I am pleased to welcome back to Kosovo the Commercial Law Development Program, or CLDP, from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Kosovo Customs and U.S. Customs and Border Protection
for their close coordination in arranging this workshop. I’d also like to extend a warm welcome to Kosovo Custom’s new Director General, Mr. Bahri Berisha.

As part of the U.S. Government’s assistance to Kosovo, we have asked CLDP to provide technical assistance to you all on ethics standardization and anti-corruption best practices.

With us today, we have two U.S. experts, Ms. Dana Jacob, Senior Attorney at the Office of Ethics at the U.S. Department of Commerce, and Mr. Edmund Estrada, Acting Director at the Office of Professional Responsibility at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection bureau, they will tap into their extensive international expertise with the goal to further improve Customs capacity to manage the methods, techniques and best practices of ethics.

Over the past few years, the Embassy worked closely with Customs to improve performance, increase transparency, and reduce corruption. We have been tremendously pleased with Customs’ progress and initiative.

With everything from the implementation of paperless processing to CTV cameras and risk-based assessments, we have seen a focused effort to eliminate opportunities for corruption. Those efforts have begun to pay off. Revenue in 2015 and 2016 exceeded projections.

Public perception of corruption in Customs has declined dramatically, as the public has shifted from seeing Customs as one of the most corrupt organizations in the government to one of the least corrupt.

In the October 2016 Public Pulse report prepared by USAID and UNDP, we saw 5 percent of respondents who reported they had been asked to pay a bribe during the past 12 months. We have an opportunity to drive that number down to zero.

With the recent change in leadership, Kosovo Customs is at a pivotal moment.  We want to see you succeed, and we will be tracking progress closely. We expect to see revenue continue to climb, as Customs officers prioritize service to their country over personal gains.  And we expect to see accountability for performance. As I have said, we will be paying close attention.  And we will do what we can to encourage and support your success.

Today’s training is one opportunity to help you deliver on these goals. At the end of the day, it comes down to you and your personal decisions.

Ethics and anti-corruption efforts rely on individual choices as much as institutional efforts. We acknowledge that changes in practice and perception are hard, and will not happen overnight. But as Kosovo continues to take the tough but necessary steps to unlock its potential, the United States will be a steady partner.

We believe in Kosovo’s future as a strong and valued member of the world trading system.  As a demonstration of our commitment to those beliefs, I welcome you to this workshop.

Thank you, and I wish you success in this workshop, and in your daily work.