Customs officers to get more power
|Customs officers examine goods imported through the Tan Thanh border gate in northern Lang Son Province. Customs are to get more power in anti-smuggling activities. — VNA/VNS Photo Tran Viet
HA NOI (VNS)— Customs officers will have additional powers to chase smugglers suspected of transporting goods illegally, under a draft revision of the Customs Law.
Under the plan, submitted by the Finance Ministry to the National Assembly Standing Committee yesterday, the powers of customs officers will be significantly increased to apprehend smugglers attempting to escape the physical jurisdiction of customs authorities.
According to Finance Minister Dinh Tien Dung, the current law prevents officers from being able to chase smugglers once they escape zones policed by customs and that in many cases, officers could not apprehend those breaking the law.
Under Article 6 of the current law, areas under the authority of customs include land-road border-gates, international railway stations and seaports, international civil airports, border gate depots, export-processing zones, customs privilege zones.
Customs officers are responsible for the inspection, supervision and control of goods within these specific zones. By contrast, the draft law will allow officers the ability to chase smugglers who are outside of these zones.
The proposed revision will provide specific measures, including the rights of customs authorities to use professional expertise to to catch smugglers.
The revision will also outline the responsibilities of parties engaged in trade activities, including customs applicants, shipping companies and warehouse firms.
"The move is expected to address arising problems such as lack of space for taking customs procedures, shortage of storehouses which caused difficulty for customs' management," Dung said.
The legal framework aims to create a national one-door mechanism under ministry co-ordination.
The chairman of NA Committee on Judiciary, Nguyen Van Hien, agreed that the strengthening of anti-smuggling measures would lead to more violators being caught.
However, NA deputy chairman Huynh Ngoc Son and chairman of the NA Committee on Ethnic Affairs Ksor Phuoc urged that customs officers only act within their jurisdictions to avoid overlapping with other agencies, including border guard and market watch.
Deputy chairwoman of the National Assembly Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan said the revised law should be seen not only as administrative procedure but also an improvement of import and export management, which will boost economic growth and crack down on smuggling and trade fraud.
She also urged those compiling the draft to concentrate on regulations that reduced the cost customs procedures for businesses, improved transparency and bolstered the credibility of customs among domestic and international enterprises.
Analysts say the revisions will allow the Customs Law to resemble newer laws relating to commerce, tax management and Viet Nam's international obligations.
The current Customs Law was approved in 2001, took effect in 2002 and was first revised in 2005.
The draft law now consists of 106 articles, of which 27 will remain, 45 articles will be amended and 34 new articles added.
Later in the day, lawmakers discussed a report on the implementation of policies to improve curriculum and text books across the education sector.
The report outlined the legal framework for the development of general education in Viet Nam.
Nearly 250 new schools are being added to the sector each year in line with annual increases in the demand for education. There are 28,912 schools nationwide, accommodating more than 14.7 million students.
Findings showed a marked improvement in curriculums, while teaching and middle management saw dramatic improvements in knowledge and professional skills. Educational infrastructure had also been upgraded.
In spite of developments, general educational quality failed to meet national education targets, according to the report.
Chairman of the NA Committee on Finance and Budget, Phung Quoc Hien, said the education system needed to be more practical, citing that text books were too theoretical and were subject to frequent changes.
Speaking on investment in education, Chairman of the NA Law Committee, Phan Trung Ly, advised a roadmap was essential to ensure financial resources for education.
NA Deputy Chairman Uong Chu Luu has urged the Ministry of Education and Training to consider financial assistance policies for disadvantaged students to ensure equal access to education. — VNS