|Customs officers implement special checks. The sector has to take stronger action regarding high-risk commodities like gasoline, minerals and goods subject to high tariffs. — Photo thoibaotaichinh.vn
HÀ NỘI — Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, smuggling and trade fraud, especially drug trafficking remained complex issues in 2020, the customs sector has coordinated with other agencies and forces to successfully unveil many cases, including major drug trafficking rings, Deputy Minister of Finance Vũ Thị Mai told a teleconference on December 24 reviewing the sector’s performance in 2020 and launching tasks for next year.
According to the General Department of Vietnam Customs, the sector expanded activities to prevent smuggling, trade fraud, and counterfeit goods in 2020, uncovering a number of major cross-border drug trafficking cases.
General Director of Vietnam Customs Nguyễn Văn Cẩn said that with the resolve to actively and proactively fight smuggling, trade fraud, and counterfeits, the department has adhered to directions issued by the Government, the National Steering Committee Against Smuggling, Trade Fraud, and Counterfeits (National Steering Committee 389), the Government’s Steering Committee for Crime Prevention and Control (Steering Committee 138), and the Ministry of Finance to carry out assigned tasks and has submitted proposals to fight smuggling and illegal cross-border transportation of goods.
As a result, the sector uncovered some 14,100 customs violations involving goods worth about VNĐ4.231 trillion (US$183.5 million) between January and November.
It has also launched legal action in 37 criminal cases, proposed other agencies launch investigations in 130 cases, and collected VNĐ463 billion for the State budget.
The uncovering of major cases shows that violations are getting increasingly complex. The sector recently busted the biggest case of cigarette smuggling via sea routes so far, seizing 8,549 packages with 4.27 million cigarette packs.
Cẩn said the customs sector has also ordered its units to effectively fight the smuggling of medicinal materials.
For example, the Anti-Smuggling Investigation Department at Vietnam Customs worked with the Customs Department of central Đà Nẵng City, the drug quality control agency at the Ministry of Health, and relevant local authorities to examine five containers, discovering that the goods inside were not apples, turnips, or carrots as declared, but mostly medicinal materials weighing about 103 tonnes.
Deputy minister Mai asked the customs sector to exert every effort to surpass the target of VNĐ315 trillion (US$13.6 billion) in State budget collection in 2021.
She said customs agencies need to have good management, boost post-customs clearance inspections and examinations to prevent losses, and step up tax arrears recovery in line with legal regulations.
They also need to press ahead with administrative reforms, customs modernisation, and trade facilitation to cut down the time and cost for customs clearance, as requested by the Government, she said, and must perform better in combating smuggling and trade fraud.
In particular, Mai added, the sector has to take stronger action regarding high-risk commodities like gasoline, minerals, goods subject to high tariffs, polluting products, imported alcohol and cigarettes, and goods temporarily imported for re-export.
The customs sector has faced an array of challenges in efforts to reach the targets set for this year.
Measures to contain COVID-19 around the world, such as border shutdowns, the suspension of commercial flights, quarantining, and lockdowns, have negatively affected trade and disrupted global supply chains, posing considerable challenges to many countries, including Việt Nam.
Facing that fact, the General Department of Việt Nam Customs has reportedly introduced solutions to further facilitate trade and prevent losses in budget collection.
General Director of the authority Cẩn said that as of December 15, his agency had handled procedures for exports and imports totalling $515.27 billion, up 4.5 per cent year-on-year. This includes $267.22 billion in exports and $248.04 billion in imports, up 6.1 per cent and 2.7 per cent, respectively.
Despite the difficulties and challenges, the sector had collected over VNĐ304.33 trillion for the State budget as of December 21, and the full-year figure is estimated at VNĐ315 trillion, or 93.2 per cent of the target. — VNS