International Customs Day 2020: “Customs fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet”

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The International Customs day is celebrated to value the Customs’ contribution and its achievement.

This year also it will be celebrated on the 26th January 2020 and the focus will be on the contribution of Customs towards a sustainable future where social, economic, health and environmental needs which have been at the heart of all its action.

Each year, a theme is chosen while paying much attention about the future.

This year, the targeted slogan is “Customs fostering sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet”.

The WCO is an independent intergovernmental body whose mission is to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of Customs administration.

It provides leadership, guidance and support to Customs administrations so as to secure and facilitate legitimate trade, realize revenues, protect society and build capacity.

Their general mission is to enhance the protection of society and the national territory and to secure and facilitate international trade.

Worldwide challenges are about standard, and Customs are bound to adapt to new world order.

The MRA Customs in Mauritius follows strictly the international norms and standards of the WCO.”

The emergence of several threats has caused security to become a major issue for many governments, and Customs administrations are increasingly called upon to contribute to national security objectives. In the past, many customs administrations performed most of their preventive operations as goods arrived at seaports, airports, and land borders, based upon an entry declaration made at the time of importation.

But today, things are significantly different.

To provide the level of security that is required, governments will increasingly depend on information and risk assessments that are undertaken in advance of the arrival of the cargo in the country it is destined.

The Mauritius Customs has played a leading pole in the using of information and communication technology to promote Customs modernization.

An effective customs administration that leverages technology would surely benefit from improved transparency, greater efficiency and enhanced security.

To meet its mission, a customs administration must effectively integrate modern practices and processes with ICT-driven Customs management system. In doing so, customs would no doubt achieve results and meet practical targets.

Customs challenges

Customs administrations are expected to raise substantial revenue, provide domestic producers with protection, provide supply chain security, prevent the importation of prohibited or unsafe imports (for example, illegal weapons or out-of-date medicines), and combat the trade of narcotics through the implementation of laws and regulations that are in line with WTO commitments.

Customs administrations are expected to accomplish these objectives both effectively (by achieving them) and efficiently (at the lowest possible cost to the budget and to the trading community) without compromising trade facilitation.

Evolution of Customs role

The responsibilities of customs is dynamic and continue to evolve.

Customs administrations are now increasingly regarded as ‘the key border agencies’ responsible for all transactions related to issues arising from the border crossings of goods and people. Some of these functions are undertaken in close cooperation with other national agencies.

Desire to reduce trading costs

Customs reforms and modernization initiatives, together with improvement in ports and trade-related institutions, will lead to significant benefits in reducing trading costs and thus enhancing the competitiveness of a country, particularly if theses initiatives focus on policy reform, technical assistance, and modernization of infrastructure.

Businesses

Traders are the most likely supporters to customs reforms. They are the first to benefit from more transparent and speedier processes and are also the first to complain about ineffective and costly services.

Engaging them during the re- form design and implementation and keeping them informed of its progress is crucial.

Professional associations have considerable political clout that not only can be mustered to ensure that the budget provides the necessary support, but also can be used to pressure other government agencies to align their performances to that of improved customs performances. The private sector can also monitor progress and direct its focus to trade facilitation objectives.

Leadership

Dedicated leadership will help to ensure that the reform remains on the agenda of the various policymakers inside and outside customs. With the substantial workload and diverse emergencies that customs managers often have to deal with, it may be best to assign the management of the reform program to a dedicated Customs official, assisted by a small team of experts. However, it has been noted that it is always the Director General of Customs who should take the lead, with strong support from the government.

But despite all the technological and digital development, human intervention is still required.

Good management of human resources is probably the single most important issue that affects the efficiency and effectiveness of customs, irrespective of the organizational structure.

This cannot be overemphasized as all aspects of customs management and customs clearance, including the application and maintenance of modern information technology (IT), will require that staff is qualified to operate the existing systems efficiently and to prepare the existing services for the introduction of new processes and techniques. In doing so, staff must be attuned to developments in international trade logistics and must adjust to shifts in emphasis with respect to customs’ mandate.

Staff profile

A modern customs administration needs to define the profile of its desired staff. The general educational background of all staff should be sufficiently high to ensure that they can acquire and maintain the skills required by a customs service.

MRA Customs – Mauritius

Under strong leadership, backed by the MRA, Mauritius Customs has been at the forehead of innovation and creativity.

The use of excise stamps on cigarettes and alcoholic drinks enables each citizen to verify whether the product has been legally imported.

Customs has an active network of surveillance at the port, both in terms of camera logistics and human resources. After having inter alia, successfully digitalized the submission of customs declarations and implemented electronic payment, the Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA) is determined to offer better services to taxpayers through the digitalization of its operations.

Drones and Patrol Boats are extensively used for border protection and prevention of smuggled and entry of illicit products.

Major trade facilitation incentives implemented by MRA Customs are:

E-Registration of Economic Operators

MRA Customs has implemented an E-Registration facility allowing for online registration of first-time importer/Exporter.

Mobile Application for Stakeholders to view status of their Bill of Entry The mobile application for Bill of Entry (BOE) status has been developed to allow importers/Exporters to have an online real-time visibility of the status of their validated Bill of Entry on mobile devices such as mobile phones or tablets.

Deferred Payment in respect of VAT on capital goods at importation This measure enables approved VAT registered person under the scheme to defer the payment of VAT payable on capital goods.

Coordinated Border Management MRA Customs has set up a Coordinated Border Management whereby all the ministries, agencies and Customs responsible for the clearance of goods under national legislation are working under one roof.

One Time Password (OTP) 

The implementation of the OTP mechanism project is a step further taken by the MRA Customs in securing legitimate transactions by preventing and detecting any fraudulent attempt of identity theft.

Scanner 

Use of scanner has really been of utmost importance with regards to clearance of goods in a timely manner. All the Customs controlled areas where clearance of goods and passengers is located are fully equipped with scanners.

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