VCN - In 2019, the Customs sector completed its assigned tasks, making an important contribution to setting an import and export turnover record of more than US$500 billion, exceeding the budget estimate andespecially establishing many victories on the front against smuggling.
General Director of Customs Nguyen Van Can.
This is an important premise for Vietnam Customs to continue its efforts to accomplish the objectives of the Customs Development Strategy to 2020;maintain the role of promoting reforms, trade facilitation in association with the implementation of the National Single Window, the ASEAN Single Window and specialised inspection; further affirming the role of protecting national interests and sovereignty; and towards the 75th anniversary of the establishment of Vietnam Customs (September 10, 1945 to September 10, 2020).
General Director of Customs Nguyen Van Can emphasisedthe above content when interviewed byCustoms Newspaper in the special issue of Canh Ty Spring 2020.
Promote trade activities and international integration
The year 2019 marked Vietnam's import and export turnover to reach $500 billion. Could you please comment on the contribution of the Customs sector to this result?
In 2019, the State management of customs took place in the context of an increasing workload, while the number of payrolls not only increased but was also streamlined and arranged according to the general policy. To achieve positive results in promoting imports and exports, international economic integration of the country, the thorough orientation of the Customs sector is to promote administrative procedure reform and customs modernisationto reduce clearance time for goods, facilitate trade under the direction of the Government and the Prime Minister.
In 2019, the Customs sector continues to follow the message sent to the business community in 2018, which is: "Customs - Enterprises: Connecting - Sharing - Companion" and throughout the process of customs modernisation; in developing, implementing and supervising customs law enforcement.
The remarkable point is to continue to promote a series of information technology (IT) applications, especially in the scheme of overall redesign of the IT system of Customs. Regarding the index of monitoring and evaluating the results of administrative reform in 2018 of the Ministry of Finance, the General Department of Customs continued to affirm itsfirst position in the ranking list of general departments.
In 2019, the General Department of Customs was honoured at the Vietnam Digital Award in the category of excellent digital transformation State agency. This is anaward of the Vietnam Digital Communications Association (VDCA), which is handed outfor achievements in the digital transformation and digital economic development of Vietnam.
In addition, the General Department of Customs continues to improve the efficiency of the Customs-Business Partner Programme from the general department to the local Customs Departments; focus on assessing compliance with customs laws.
By the end of 2019, most of the Customs sector's targets related to the implementation of e-Government exceeded the targets (2019-2020) set in the Government's Resolution 17/2019 / NQ-CP.
In addition, in 2019, as the 1899 Standing Committee, the General Department of Customs continuedto coordinate with ministries and agencies to connect new procedures into the National Single Window (NSW), opening broad connectivity to ASEAN Single Window (ASW). Notably, the Ministry of Finance was advised to submit to the Government for the promulgation of Decree 85/2019/ND-CP stipulating the implementation of administrative procedures under NSW, ASW and specialised inspection for import and export goods.
Efforts to reform administrative procedures and customs modernisation, especially solutions in 2019, have contributed significantly to shortening clearance time for goods; facilitating procedures and reducing input costs for businesses; contributing to the achievement of the goals set by the Government in Resolution No. 02/NQ-CP, as well as contributing to the milestone of $500 billion of import and export turnover in 2019.
In 2019, the Customs sector set a record of budget revenue, how do you evaluate this important achievement?
In 2019, the General Department of Customs continuedto successfully fulfill the budget collection task, reaching VND 349,921 billion, up 16.45 percent of the estimate, making an important contribution to the implementation of the Finance-Budget task of the finance sector, maintaining and ensuring the stability of national financial potential.
In addition to objective factors from the growth of import and export turnover, it is impossible not to mention reform solutions that facilitate the business community as I mentioned above and the initiative and flexibility in direction and administration of the General Department of Customs.
In 2019, the budget revenue task wasforecasted to face many difficulties due to many impacts from mechanisms and policies, the sharp reduction of import tax under free trade agreements (FTAs), especially the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which officially came into effect on January 14, 2019.
In this situation, following Resolution No. 01 and 02 of the Government, under the direction of leaders of the Ministry of Finance, the General Department of Customs took the initiative in monitoring and grasping the situation of import and export activities and had timely and flexible adjustments in assigning targets for budget collection forlocal customs departments.
In particular, the General Department of Customs focusedon synchronisingthe budget collection and measures against revenue loss, effective tax debt recovery, limiting the arising of new debts, striving to maintain the total tax debt of 2019 under 2 percent of total industry revenue (target assigned by the Government, Ministry of Finance is less than 5 percent). This is a positive result with many synchronous and effective solutions in implementing anti-loss instruments such as risk management, post-clearance inspection, inspection-inspection, anti-smuggling.
Leading role on the front against smuggling
In 2019, the General Department of Customs was assigned by the Minister of Finance to advise and organisethe implementation of the tasks of the Standing Committee of the 389 National Steering Committee. With this role, how didanti-smuggling work in 2019 change?
In 2019, smuggling, trade fraud and illegal cross-border transportation of goods werevery complicated with a mix of traditional and morecomplexviolations.
From the beginning of the year, the General Department of Customs has directed the whole sector, especially the customs control force, to closely follow the direction of the Government, the 389 National Steering Committee andthe Ministry of Finance to strengthen the deployment of a series of strugglingplans.
In 2019, the sector discovered, arrested and handled 17,321 violations (up 4.14 percent compared to 2018), the total value of infringing goods was more thanVND 3,035 billion, up 78.29 percent; Customs prosecuted criminal cases 51 cases; transfer the authorities to prosecute 164 cases.
In 2019, the Customs sector hadmany outstanding victories in the fight against frauds of origin and illegal transmission, fought and prevented goods imported from China containing the “nine dash line map” that infringes Vietnamese sovereignty.
Last year also recorded a clear change of Customs in the fight against transnational drug crimes. The Customs force coordinated the struggle to clear hundreds of cases, seizing the record number of exhibits of tonnes of drugs of all kinds. For example, the seizureof 300 kg of methin March 2019 and the seizure of 500 kg of ketamine in May in Ho Chi Minh City; HaiPhong Customs Department participated in seizing80 heroin bricksin Nam Dinh in September. Most recently, in November 2019, Customs force worked with theDepartment of Drug Investigation Police Department - C04 (Ministry of Industry and Trade)to seize446 heroin cakes in HCMC.
Besides, the General Department of Customs continuedto step up the task of combating terrorism and money laundering crimes. In December 2019, Vietnam and the US signed an agreement (at the governmental level) on mutual assistance in customs. This includedmany contents related to exchanging technical assistance, exchanging information for law enforcement, promoting trade development, blocking, protecting community safety and security, preventing and fighting against terrorism, smuggling andcommercial fraud.
As the advisory agency and organisingthe implementation of the tasks of the Standing Committee of the National Steering Committee 389, the General Department of Customs timely advised, issued and organisedmany thematic struggle plansforareas and goods with high risk of violations, such as organisingthe struggle, arrest and handling of smuggling and illegal transportation of goods across the southwest border; mineral; fake goods origin; commercial fraud with yarn items.
The results in 2019 confirmed and enhanced the leading role of the Customs sector in the fight against smuggling, trade fraud and fake goods.
Continue to build a modern, professional and transparent Vietnamese customs
In 2020, besides favourable aspects, the customs work is determined to continue to face many difficulties and challenges, interwoven between traditional tasks and new requirements set in the context of globalisation, and the Industrial Revolution 4.0 is happening strongly. This is both a challenge and an opportunity for Vietnam Customs to continue affirming its role and position to accompany the country in the new development stage.
Despite the drastic workfrom the Government and ministries, sectors, in the report on Business Environment - Doing Business 2020, published by the World Bank (WB) in October 2019, the ranking of Vietnam's business environment, including the Cross-border Goods Transactions index, was downgraded. With the leading role of the National Steering Committee Standing Committee on ASEAN Single Window, National Single Window and Trade Facilitation, in your opinion, is there a need to have a breakthrough solution to improve this issue?
Yes, in 2019, despite drastic participation and certain improvements, other countries changed more strongly, so Vietnam's position declined.
In fact, the reform of administrative procedures for import and export goods, especially the State audit activities of ministries and branches, is still inadequate and has not really reformed in the implementation stage.
To overcome these shortcomings and contribute to substantive improvement to drastically reduce the time for goods clearance, it is necessary to remove bottlenecks from the operation of the securities industry. The KTC activities should focus on one focal point, in line with international practices, in accordance with commercial activities of countries with large import and export trade turnover with Vietnam, such as the US and China.
At the resolution of the regular meeting of the Government in October 2019, the Government directed ministries and branches to assess the causes and have solutions to improve each component index.
In particular, to improve the index of cross-border trade transactions, the Government assigned the Ministry of Finance (the General Department of Customs) to assume the prime responsibility and workwith concerned ministries and agencies in formulating a scheme on reform and most activities of inspection at the border gate in the direction of the customs office are the focal point for the implementation of the inspection of import and export goods at the border gate (except for goods related to security, defence andquarantine), ministries and agencies. Specialised management agencies conduct post inspections.
Implementing tasks assigned by the Government, from the end of 2019, the General Department of Customs has embarked on them expeditiously, actively and actively researching and developing the project.
In addition to the above-mentioned solution, concerned ministries and branches need to urgently perform tasks set out in Decree 85/2019/ND-CP.
This is the last year of implementing the Customs Development Strategy to 2020 . Could you review the outstanding results of the strategy implementation up to now and the development goals of Vietnam Customs in the future?
So far, basically Vietnam Customs has finished early in the implementation of important goals set by the Government in the strategy. Typically,institutional, legal policies in customs are basically completed according to international standards and practices. E-customs procedures have been implemented to 100 percent of Customs departments and sub-departments nationwide. reaching over 99 percent of turnover, declarations and participating businesses; the percentage of goods subject to actual inspection is dragged down to around 5 percent (the goal is to be below 7 percent by 2020).
Promoting the results achieved in the past year, in 2020, the whole sector should continue to promote administrative procedure reform and customs modernisation. Focusing on reviewing and evaluating the overall goals set by the Government in the Customs Development Strategy to 2020, to have timely solutions from the beginning of the year to complete all tasks.
At the same time, it is necessary to embark on developing a Customs Development Strategy to 2030, a vision to 2045 and goals, plans for reform, development and modernisation in the new period 2021-2026 of the General Department of Customs authorities and each local customs department.
The important goal is to continue building a modern Vietnam Customs, with adequate and transparent mechanisms and policies, simple and harmonious customs procedures meeting international standards, on the application platform. IT, centraliseddata processing and the widespread application of modern customs management methods, reaching alevel equivalent to advanced countries in the ASEAN region and the world.
The development objectives of Vietnam Customs must also be in line with trends of the Industrial Revolution 4.0; guidelines for building e-government; meet the openness of the economy in the direction of integration and globalisationwith many FTAs that have been and will be implemented such as: CPTPP, EVFTA, or RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, between ASEAN and sizpartners with FTA with ASEAN) are making positive progress on the negotiating table.
In addition to outstanding professional and operational results, 2019 also recorded the determination of the General Department of Customs in arranging, streamlining the apparatus and rotating civil servants to take a leading role. Could you please give more specific consideration on this important work and orientation in 2020?
Implementing Decree 18-NQ/TW dated October 25, 2017 of the 12th Central Committee of the Party Central Committee, in 2019, the General Department of Customs has been promoting the arrangement, streamlining and streamlining the organisationin the direction of meeting the requirements of additional tasks, increasing the workload over the years and responding to the requirements of changes in centralisedmanagement, administrative procedure reform and customs modernisation.
In 2019, the General Department of Customs has advised the Ministry of Finance to rearrange and rename Customs branches, cutting 12/174 branches.
Another highlight is the organisationof mobilisingand rotating many civil servants to hold leadership positions at the department level, at the General Department offices and at the local customs offices; rotating civil servants to hold leadership positions at the bureaus and branches between units of the General Department's agencies and local customs offices to train and foster public officials' leadership.
Regarding internal management work associated with the fight against corruption, harassment and harassment, the negative is to build an integrity and professional force, the General Department of Customs has developed and finalisedthe clear and transparent policies and regulations to facilitate businesses and avoid negative harassment of customs officials.
In 2020, Vietnam Customs will celebrate 75 years of establishment (September 10, 1945 to September 10, 2020), I recommend the whole sector, from the beginning of the year, be proactive, active and organize significant activities to celebrate this important event, with the spirit of solemniity, economical and effective.
On the occasion of the New Year of the Rat, 2020, on behalf of the leaders of the General Department of Customs and on behalf of myself, through the Customs Newspaper, I would like to send greetings to the cadres, officials and employees of the Customs sector healthy, happiness, and success! Wishing all Customs officials, officials and employees to strive to achieve the highest results in all aspects of work in 2020!
By Thai Binh/ HuuTuc