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Co-operation key to customs efficiency

Update: September, 01/2014 - 08:48
Illustrative image/ Photo thuongphatlogistics

HA NOI (VNS) — Ministries and agencies involved in customs procedures need further co-operation with customs offices to speed up customs clearance.

This was the prevailing viewpoint at a conference held last week on the Government's simplification of customs procedures which the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM) and Viet Nam Logistics Business Association organised.

Representatives of enterprises at the conference lauded customs reforms but expressed concern over the lack or absence of co-operation between customs and other concerned agencies which, they said, could derail the reforms.

Ngo Ngoc Long, a representative of International Logistics Joint Stocks Company, said that e-customs and the removal of quotas for processed products were among the effective Government measures to simplify customs procedures.

The representative added, however, that to import machines and equipment, his company needed the assessment of and permit from the Ministry of Science and Technology. He noted that if administrative procedures got stuck at the technology agency, even e-customs could not help much in shortening the importation process.

Pham Van Binh, a representative of NIS Company, agreed with Long, citing as an example his company's experience in importing food using HCM City's Ct Li Port.

The importation process proceeded smoothly, but the company could not find a guarantee agency that would examine the food.

"We completed the customs procedures early but had to wait for the guarantee agency's testing results, which hindered the customs clearance process," Binh said.

In other cases, some customs offices accept testing results from the Centre for Products Quality Assessment No. 3 while others require results from the Centre for Analysing and Classifying Import/Export Products before granting customs clearance.

Some enterprises complained about procedures on the payment of import/export taxes. They revealed that a few days after paying the taxes, customs offices at the border gates would inform them that they did not pay enough taxes.

The representatives want customs offices to open accounts in commercial banks and carry out other procedures that will cut red tape.

Nguyen Ngoc Hung, vice head of the General Department of Customs's Import and Export Tax Department, said that customs offices were co-operating with 17 commercial banks in the tax collection effort. Hung added that the Finance Ministry was planning to expand co-operation with 60 commercial banks nationwide.

The exchange of tax-related information among customs and tax-collecting offices will be shorten from one hour to fifteen minutes per transaction using online operations, he said. This will enable the offices to quickly provide enterprises with information about tax payments.

Dang Thi Binh An, Chairwoman of C&E Tax Consultancy Company, cited inconsistencies in customs offices' understanding and application of customs regulations. She also said enterprises faced difficulties in implementing the Viet Nam Automated Cargo and Port Consolidated System/Viet Nam Customs Information System VNACCS/VCIS.

An said the list of import/export products was subject to the management of numerous specialised agencies which ate up much of the time and money of enterprises and made the process of granting licenses more complicated. — VNS

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