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After 24 years, the Oceania Customs Organization (OCO) for the first time has a female head of secretariat, a Papua New Guinean Nancy Tati Oraka. 

Ms Oraka replaces the outgoing head Richard Brennan. She has over 23 years of experience working in the PNG Public service and few years in the private sector.

The OCO steering committee chairman Randy Sue said they have many applications but after careful consideration, they chose the female candidate.

“We had a very competitive list of applicants to choose from and we are confident of our choice in selecting Nancy, who has held leadership roles in Papua New Guinea, which is also one of our biggest members,” Sue said.

“The fact that the top candidate, on merit, is a woman is also a testament to the fact that Customs is no longer a male dominated sector and that our development programs for our women Customs officers is coming into fruition,” he added.

Ms Oraka joined Customs in 2011, when it was demerged from the Internal Revenue Commission and has served in various sections including Border Management, International Relations, Modernisation and Southern Region Operations.  She also served as the Regional Director Southern Region Operations overseeing the Ports of Port Moresby, Jacksons, Alotau and Oro.

Ms Oraka is grateful for the opportunity given.

“It is an honour to be appointed as the Head of Secretariat of OCO and to oversee how the organization can support its 23-member countries. There is a considerable amount of work to be done considering the challenges we face in the region in the areas of border security, and trade facilitation,” Oraka said.

“In recent years, our members have experienced increasing challenges in the smuggling of goods, people, drugs and weapons. There is a greater demand for our members to upgrade their technologies and systems to be on par with the rest of the world. All these challenges reinforce the need for the region to work together as we have always done. There needs to be more collaboration because I believe that together we certainly will achieve more,” she added.

Ms Oraka holds a Master’s degree in Customs Administration (and International Law) from Charles Sturt University (Centre for Customs and Excise Studies) and a Bachelor of Arts Degree, majoring in International Relations with a minor in Public Administration which qualifies her for this role. 

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