The CNMI Division of Customs is busy preparing to host a conference of the Oceania Customs Organisation in May, with members of the Secretariat, headed by Roy Lagolago, arriving on Saipan on Feb. 25.
Lagolago and other OCO Secretariat representatives will be on Saipan for a five-day pre-conference visit to check on the status of preparations for the organization’s 21st conference.
Saipan was chosen to host this year’s conference in last year’s conference in Melbourne, Australia. That was also when CNMI Customs director Jose C. Mafnas was elected OCO chair.
Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, who will then be the acting governor since Gov. Ralph DLG Torres will be attending the National Governors Association’s winter conference, is expected to meet with Lagolago and the other OCO Secretariat members.
The annual OCO conference is a gathering of 23 member countries composed of American Samoa, Australia, the CNMI, the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Wallis and Futuna.
Mafnas said they are expecting about 70 delegates. They are also hoping that the World Customs Organization Secretariat in Belgium would grace the occasion.
“We’re trying to send invitation to the [WCO] Secretariat to join us. When we met with [Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya] in Melbourne, he already told us that he will make time to visit and join us,” said Mafnas.