FutureStarr

AStaff at Customs

AStaff at Customs

AStaff at Customs

Exemptions. In addition to exemptions that are provided for in the law, discretionary exemptions that can be granted by the ministers and/or the head of the customs administration create the opportunity to engage in corrupt practices. They undermine the fairness of the system and may create, in the mind of the importers who are paying the duties and taxes, a doubt about the reasonableness of continuing to comply.

Custom

Building a system to promote integrity in customs administration requires not only the effort to put in place the necessary measures to combat corruption but also ongoing vigilance to ensure that the measures continue to operate as intended. Even in those countries that are considered to have the most efficient and honest administrations, considerable effort is still invested to ensure that the controls continue to operate and that corrupt behavior is detected and dealt with. Honest behavior by customs officials cannot be taken for granted: even in countries with generally low tax and tariff rates, criminals involved in drug smuggling have the ability to pay large amounts of money to a customs officer to allow a shipment to proceed without inspection. In order to deal effectively with corruption, at the outset there must be a commitment from the government to address the problem. This goes beyond mere statements that corruption will not be tolerated to the actual actions of ministers and other high-ranking government officials. Too often these officials believe and act as if they are above the law and demand special treatment from customs officials (e.g., proceeding through customs without paying duty). Given this atmosphere, a government cannot, in all honesty, expect a customs officer to collect duties and taxes from every other importer. Once the commitment has been made, there are certain essential actions that must be undertaken to build a system that has integrity and that will produce the returns expected by the government. Most of these involve designing measures to reduce the incentives and opportunities to engage in corrupt practices and, at the same time, creating organizations that are interested in and committed to doing a good job. In one small African country, as part of their customs reform program, small incentives were introduced to enhance officers’ pay. At the same time, actions were initiated to identify and discipline corrupt staff. The message was clear: the government was willing to invest in modernization, including better pay, but it expected officers to behave in a certain manner in return.

Simplification of the tax and tariff system (such as reducing the number of rates to the minimum and restricting exemptions) is not only good economic policy but it also reduces opportunities for corruption. From a customs officer’s point of view, simple, clear legislation creates the framework for the development of systems and procedures that are easily understood by both the trade community and officials. This policy framework should be based on the following principles.Many customs-related decisions end up in court. It may be possible to create professional, honest customs administrations, but their work to ensure compliance with the revenue laws can lose much of its impact if the judicial system is corrupt. In the worst cases, the courts may overturn sound decisions made on the interpretation of customs legislation, criminal prosecutions for fraud, and prosecutions of corrupt employees. (Source: www.elibrary.imf.org)

 

Related Articles