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Customs plans to tighten up on short-time imports

Update: September, 07/2012 - 10:35

HA NOI — The Customs General Department has called for temporary imports and re-exports to be tightened as the problem of smuggling through temporary imports had reached alarming levels.

According to the department's report at a conference on Wednesday, inspections at northern Hai Phong Port and some other border provinces revealed that 7,066 overdue containers, most of which were goods of temporary import, had not had their procedures conducted for re-export.

The customs also found more than 600 containers being transported along the wrong routes. There were 195 containers of prohibited goods, especially industrial waste, and 125 customs declarations that were proved to be fake.

From 2009 to last June, a total of nearly 9.992 million tonnes of petrol (equal to US$7.397 billion) was temporarily imported to Viet Nam. However, around 80 per cent of the volume was re-exported while the rest (equal to $1.391 billion) remained in the domestic market.

"Those are just initial findings," said the department's deputy director Nguyen Van Can, adding that a large part of the temporary imported petrol might be sold in the country instead of being re-exported, causing a significant loss of tax to the State amounting to billions of dong.

Deputy Ministry of Finance Hoang Anh Tuan said that the smuggling through temporary import would have a negative impact on the country's economic development and macroeconomic stability.

Statistics showed that, to date, five out of 13 petrol wholesale enterprises were VND192 billion (US$9.15 million) in arrears with tax.

Recently, a Chinese ship transporting 2,000 tonnes of petrol for re-export was busted transferring the petrol to other ships to sell in the domestic market.

The biggest problem was the time limit that temporary imported goods were allowed to be kept in Viet Nam until re-export: up to 195 days. "A 195-day storage is too long," Can said, stressing that this would make it hard for Customs to manage temporary imported goods.

The department proposed to shorten the duration to 30 days with no extension to be allowed.

"Goods which pass the re-export deadline from 15 days must be returned or taxed if allowed to be sold in the domestic market. Otherwise they would be considered smuggled goods and be seized and handled as outlined in the regulations," he said.

According to Can, the temporary import of prohibited goods must also be banned, stressing that a large part of prohibited goods might be smuggled into the country through temporary import. He said only petrol containers that meet the status quo should be allowed to be re-exported to prevent smuggling and tax evasion.

For temporary imported petrol which was not re-exported, the department proposed to collect the same value-added tax levied on goods for domestic consumption. — VNS

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