Gary Smith officially retires on July 31 after 47 years of dedicated service to the Bahamas Customs Department. He began his career with Customs as a trainee in 1968 and rose through the ranks to become Assistant Comptroller of Customs, acting as Comptroller on three occasions. Mr Smith says that he has seen many changes in the department during his years of service and he has watched it keep pace with its modus operandi as the world has changed.
“This has been a very exciting career and I have no regrets whatsoever,” he stated. “My job has given me the opportunity to work on several islands of The Bahamas and, although the majority of my time has been spent in Nassau, I have, in fact, visited the entire country. I spent a significant part of my career in the Internal, Audit and Investigation Division which took me to most of the islands. I have also had the good fortune to receive training in Jamaica, St Lucia, St Maarten and have also attended courses in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. In addition I have traveled to Antigua, Barbuda, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados on the job.”
Mr. Smith was Enforcement Liaison Officer for The Bahamas for six years which meant that he was the contact person for Customs information on drug statistics and major customs breaches. He served as First Vice President of the Bahamas Public Services Union and prior to that was shop steward for the union for 20 years which carried him to most of the Caribbean islands. He also spent five weeks in Geneva Switzerland representing the Bahamas at the Annual Labour Meeting.
One of the major changes Mr. Smith has seen during his years with Customs is that the Bahamas Customs Department became a member of the World Customs Organisation so that it now has to adhere to worldwide standards.
“The department will be making a lot of changes and is soon to become a member of the World Trade Organisation,” he stated.
Mr. Smith feels that a career in the Bahamas Customs Department is an excellent one.
“I recommend it to any young person wanting to make a contribution to this country. Many people see the job of the Customs official as just checking people’s suitcases when they come in at the airport and this does indeed provide the opportunity for officers to be good tourism ambassadors for their country but there are many other areas in which to work as a Customs Officer.”
Since February 1, Mr. Smith has been enjoying six months preretirement leave before his official retirement date of July 31. He plans to enjoy his retirement working in his garden which he loves, fishing, getting some good R & R and enjoying his two grandchildren.
He also plans to remain very involved in the St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Dundas Town. He is on the Board of the Bahamas Conference of Methodist Churches. His main goal, he says, is to spend time with the young men in the community since he is very concerned about the state of young men in the country today.