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Director General Nguyen Van Can: Vietnam Customs on new development

08:06 | 28/01/2017

VNC- The year 2016 was the starting year for Vietnam Customs to achieve important targets on new development (the period 2016 – 2020) and also the first year for Mr. Nguyen Van Can to shoulder the role of the Director General of Customs. In the context of numerous difficulties and challenges, Customs as a whole entity has made every effort and attained significant achievements.        

director general nguyen van can vietnam customs on new development
Director General of Customs, Mr. Nguyen Van Can.

Before entering the lunar new year 2017, Director General Nguyen Van Can spent time answering questions raised by the Customs News reporter for deeply sharing, analyzing and assessing the achievements of 2016 and orientations and objectives of Customs for 2017.

In 2016, despite various difficulties, the General Department of Customs has accomplished key duties, contributing to the common achievements by the Finance sector thanks to the directions and facilitation of the Government, the leaders of the Ministry of Finance and the efforts by leaders, the Director General and the officials of Customs. How do you feel about the achievements of the year 2016?

In 2016, Customs faced further difficulties and challenges relating to the world’s and the national economy in addition to the handover of the position of the Director General. However, Customs leaders and officials have been in solidarity to bring the achievements into full play and determined to accomplish all assigned duties. The guidelines, orientations and objectives were to further promote administrative reform, facilitate traders in the light of Government’s Resolution No. 19 and Resolution No. 35 and focus on implementing measures in terms of enhancing Customs management in the consistent direction of more substantiality and efficiency.

For regular duties, Customs tried to accomplish the task of revenue collection under the set targets in 2016. This was a big effort against the background of global and national economic difficulties. In 2016 Customs was assigned by the National Assembly, the Government and the Ministry of Finance to collect 270,000 billion vnd on the basis of the forecasts of macro-economic targets such as the GDP of 6.7%, crude oil’s price of $US 60/barrel. Nevertheless, the GDP of the year 2016 only attained the rate of 6.21% and the average price of crude oil at $US 43/barrel. Besides, Vietnam started entering the period of cutting down the import tariff, particularly for the commodities of high import duty rates, huge volume and accounting for a big amount in collected revenue in the context of the FTAs’ impacts on Customs duty collection.

To deal with the foresaid difficulties, the General Department of Customs continued to conduct measures in terms of administrative reform, Customs modernization, facilitation of import and export activities and maintaining revenue sources in a synchronous manner. Especially, Customs focused its resources on undertaking measures for anti-revenue losses in terms of valuation, HS codes, tariff rates, particularly for goods of high value, high duty rates and high importation frequency such as cars, consumable goods. Missions were set up to supervise duty collection and tax retrieval in targeted areas such as Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh city, Hai Phong. Under directions by the Ministry of Finance and thanks to our determination and effort, Customs collected 272,167 billion VND equivalent to 108% of the estimate, increasing by 3.8% compared to 2015.

As the Director General shared, the important targets for Customs are to continue with measures for trade and investment facilitation and produce changes for enhancing customs management efficiency. How do you evaluate the achievements deriving from the above mentioned directions in 2016?

In the coming time, to develop Customs as a professional, advanced, effective and efficient force, clear changes should be created; awareness, strong will and integrity should be raised. Particularly, renovation of human resources should be performed on the basis of job positions in line with the Customs modernization process.

Customs has considered administrative reform, Customs modernization for trade facilitation and raising management efficiency as key duties. Shouldering the tasks, Customs has concentrated its effort to complete Customs legislation of which 15 projects have been submitted to the National Assembly, the Government and Prime Minister; 03 Decrees and 02 Decisions by the Prime Minister and 09 Circulars by the Ministry of Finance have been submitted to competent authorities for approval and publication.

In 2016, the General Department of Customs submitted to the Ministry of Finance for signing the Plan of Customs reform, development and modernization in the period 2016-2020 and the 5 year plan of IT application in Customs for the period 2016 – 2020 with concrete objectives and measures for realizing the vision: Customs procedures to be conducted “anywhere – any time – any device”

In addition, Customs evaluated and reviewed the legal enforcement in the Customs field and in doing Customs procedures. Thus, Customs realized errors in connecting the central level with the local level, which created loopholes for smugglers to take advantage. Therefore, the General Department of Customs developed and issued Regulations on internal inspection and control in Customs procedure implementation, Customs examination and supervision. The Regulations based on the model of three levels in a concentrated and consistent manner (at the General Department, Provincial Department and Customs Branch levels) and came into force on January 1st, 2017. The Regulations’ targets are to help management levels to grasp the overall picture and details of Customs management in the reality for timely detection of mistakes, errors, violations committed by traders and Customs officials as well. Therefore, intervention and solutions could be promptly introduced, especially when signs of infringes arise. Daily supervision and control would be conducted via monitoring, supervising and analyzing data in the centralized IT systems, camera systems for supervision and GPS location, container scanning pictures, luggage screening pictures and information collected from Customs’ hot lines.

In parallel, we are developing a “Customs Manual” which would contain detailed contents in Customs techniques for helping Customs officials to know how to perform their assigned duties. At the same time, Customs has been expanding and improving the IT application and equipment usage for managing, inspecting, controlling and supervising Customs activities. This would ensure Customs management and good compliance.

Beside active modernization, reformation and enhancement of efficiency in the Customs field, playing the role of Standing Agency assigned by the Government, the General Department of Customs has closely coordinated with relevant ministries in implementing the National Single Window, performing the Project of raising the capacity of specialized inspection for procedure simplification and clearance time reduction. This is one of the key solutions determined by the Government for improving an investment and business environment, raising national competitiveness and promoting import – export and foreign investment activities.

How do you find Customs in playing the role of the Standing Agency to implement the Government’s project of raising efficiency and effectiveness of specialized inspection and the Standing Agency of the National Steering Committee of the National Single Window and Trade Facilitation?

Following the achievements in 2015, the General Department of Customs has proactively completed the dossier to submit to the Prime Minister for issuing the decision on the establishment of the National Steering Committee of the ASEAN Single Window, the National Single Window and Trade Facilitation in 2016.

Over the past year, the General Department of Customs has actively worked with leaders of key ministries relating to specialized inspection such as: the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Transportation to promote the implementation of the National Single Window and simplification of specialized inspection formalities. Thus, the General Department of Customs has coordinated with relevant ministries to review, develop and complete the mechanisms and policies in terms of managing and carrying out specialized inspection; proposed amendments and replacement of 76 groups of legal documents in the field of specialized inspection by associated ministries, of which numbers and concrete requirements of amendments should be pointed out; deployed and put into operation 10 specialized inspection stations at the border gates in 8 targeted areas; introduced specialized inspection in the National Single Window implementation.

Thanks to implementation of trade facilitation measures, considerable improvements have been made. Costs of preparing dossiers for imports and exports are estimated to save approximately $US 600.

2016 could be considered as a remarkable year in terms of prevention and anti-smuggling by Customs. In addition to timely struggling, preventing and settling numerous complicated cases which had impact on national security, public safety, Customs has been in active coordination with relevant forces and collected intelligence. Could you analyze more clearly developments in anti-smuggling which have been achieved over the last time?

Customs control units and functional forces have followed developments of violations in 2016 for timely prevention and efficiently fighting against smuggling activities and illegal trafficking of goods across the borders. Customs has focused on striking networks, gangs and preventing as well as destroying cases relating to smuggling and trafficking prohibited commodities such as ivory, pangolins, and drugs. Besides, strengthening of inspection and handling cases in terms of fraud, tax evasion, especially valuation fraud relating to the commodities of high values, high duty rates and high importation frequency.

director general nguyen van can vietnam customs on new development
Customs continues with enhancing efficiency and mastering equipment for Customs control. Photo: Huu Linh.

In addition to seizing cases, strict settlement of cases should be also noted. Of these, Customs has brought 48 cases to criminal prosecution, rising by 14 cases in comparison with the year 2015 and forwarded the dossiers of 95 cases to relevant agencies for prosecution. Remarkably, Customs branches have perceived of their function of bringing cases to prosecution and conduct the proceedings to prosecute various cases relating to prohibited goods. Typical cases related to importing banned goods via Ho Chi Minh city ports; cases of trafficking ivory, rhinoceros horns, drugs, weapon, harmful materials.

Regarding post clearance audit, Customs has conducted 1,375 cases at declarants’ premises. Of these, Customs focused on reviewing, auditing and detecting commercial fraud, particularly fraud in customs valuation, C/O. Several cases which had signs of serious violation have been treated. Billions of VND of duties and taxes have been retrieved from these cases. Some cases relating to items such as cars, petrol, steel, equipment and machines for investment projects have been investigated. By carrying out the post clearance audit, Customs has collected 2,436 billion VND.

Concerning inspection activities, Customs strived to fight against fraud in HS codes, Customs valuation. Of these, certain hot cases in association with the commodities such as batteries, Filament cloth…have been discovered and retrieved, bringing billions of VND for the State Revenue.

In addition to anti-tax losses, Customs has made an important contribution to creating a fair and transparent business environment, assisting the business community in understanding and complying with the legislation, helping to ensure national security, safety and public health.

In 2016, the General Department of Customs actively undertook the duties of the Standing Office of the Steering Board 389 to advise the Government, the Head of the Steering Board 389 in directing and managing prevention and anti-smuggling and anti-commercial fraud nationwide in a more substantial and efficient manner.

Building the Customs force to be a professional, modern one and anti-harassment have been the activities concentrated by Customs for the last year. How do you find the mentioned activities of the year 2016?

Customs considers the human and personnel related activities as a decisive factor in performing our duties. In order to develop human resources, to make Customs management more substantial and to strengthen the connection of Customs at all levels, the General Department of Customs has issued various regulations on Customs inspection, control and supervision.

Besides, Customs strived to implement Decision No. 65/QD-TTg by the Prime Minister regulating the functions, duties, competence and the organizational structure of the General Department of Customs; arranged human resources in line with the new requirements and new tasks; carried out rotation and shifting positions of staff; strengthened internal inspection activities, ensured discipline performance and fought against corruption and negative signs in daily operation. Customs officials who broke the laws and regulations were detected and treated in a timely, transparent and strict way.

With regard to the organizational structure, this work was performed in a timely, serious and strict manner. Till now, Customs structure has been consolidated in the direction of completion, efficiency and effectiveness and 32 divisions and branches have been dissolved.

The work volume for Customs is likely to be so huge in the context of forecast disadvantages and difficulties posing to our country in 2017. Which pivotal work Customs should focus on to accomplish the assigned duties?

Bringing into full play the achievements of the year 2016 and consistently implementing the directions by the Government and the Prime Minister in attaining the economic and social targets in 2017; the directions by the leaders of the Ministry of Finance at the meeting of summarizing the activities in 2016 and carrying out the tasks of the year 2017, Customs has tried its best since the beginning of 2017 for accomplishing all assigned duties.

Furthermore, in the light of the guidelines in developing a constructive government which is of integrity, takes strong actions in serving the people and honestly looks at shortcomings and weak points, Customs should keep on performing its key tasks: further speeding administrative reform, streamlining and simplifying procedures for import and export, reducing clearance time, facilitating the business community, playing the role of Standing Agency of the National Steering Committee of the ASEAN Single Window, the National Single Window and Trade Facilitation, enforcing Customs managing and supervision; enhancing the efficiency of prevention and anti-smuggling and anti-commercial fraud, and the role of the Standing Agency of the National Steering Board 389. Particularly, Customs should continue to raise awareness of the discipline, struggle against negative signs, corruption and develop human resources. In parallel, measures to accomplish duty collection of 285,000 billion VND should be conducted in a synchronous manner.

Before entering the lunar new year 2017, which messages would you like convey to ustoms leaders and officials?

On the occasion of the lunar new year 2017, on behalf of the leaders of the General Department of Customs and of myself, I would like to wish the generations of Customs officials nationwide peace, good health, happiness and success!

We would like to extend our sincere thanks to you and wish you and your family a happy new year!

In coming time, for meeting the targets of developing Customs to be a professional and modern force which performs its duties in an efficient and effective manner, Customs should create significant changes and further raise awareness, determination and integrity in daily operation. Especially, it is essential to push reformation of the human resource management on the basis of job positions in line with the Customs modernization process.

By Phuong Lien