Customs: Efforts for connection and reform of specialised inspection
Affirm the role of connection
More than six years ago, the Government expressed determination for the reform of specialised inspection by issuing Resolution 19/2014 / NQ-CP, requesting the Ministry of Finance to work with other ministries and agencies to review and re-evaluate import-export processes and procedures and reduce clearance time for enterprises. In 2015, the Ministry of Finance (General Department of Customs) “shaped” a comprehensive picture of the shortcomings and inadequacies of specialised inspection and proposed the Prime Minister issue Decision 2026 / QD-TTg dated November 11, 2015 approving a scheme on measures to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of specialised inspection for import-export goods and assigning ministries and agencies to carry out the measures in the scheme.
So far, as a focal point, the Ministry of Finance (the General Department of Customs) has worked with other ministries to carry out measures to comprehensively reform the specialised inspection for import and export goods in accordance with the Government’s guidance on cutting specialised inspection procedures. Motivated by the Government’s drastic guidance and the participation of the Ministry of Finance (the General Department of Customs), other ministries and agencies, the specialised inspection for import-export goods have had initial results such as the proportion of imported consignments subject to pre-clearance inspection has decreased, from about 26% in 2015 to 19.1%; the specialised inspection processing time has decreased significantly. However, these results have not the Government’s requirement for reducing below 10% for imports in 2018-2019; and there have beenmany shortcomings and overlaps in inspections.
Problems in the specialised inspection are ongoing, making it difficult for import and export activities. From that fact, the Government is once again determined to reform by assigning the Ministry of Finance to preside over the development of the project of specialised inspection reform with the Customs agency as the focal point for specialised inspection at the border gate (except for items related to security, defence and quarantine), and the specialised management ministries in charge of post-clearance audit”(described in Resolution No. 99 / NQ-CP dated November 13, 2019, and Resolution Decision No. 02 / NQ-CP dated January 1, 2020 of the Government).
It is clear this is not a simple task, because if the Ministry of Finance (the General Department of Customs) was in the role of the focal point to promote the implementation of ministries and agency, now the Ministry of Finance (General Department of Customs) is assigned as thefocal point to conduct specialised inspection at the border gate”. As per the statement at the recent meeting with representatives of ministries and agencies, Deputy Minister of Finance Vu Thi Mai said “the scheme on reforming model of quality inspection and food safety inspection for imported goods is a difficult one. Despite difficulties and the Covid-19 pandemic, over the past 10months, the Ministry of Finance (General Department of Customs) has developed and worked with stakeholders to review and complete the scheme.Focal point for specialised inspection at border gates
Pham Thi Ngoc Thuy, Deputy Director of the Office of Private Economic Development Research Board (Board IV under the Prime Minister’s Advisory Council for Administrative Procedure Reform) who has closely followed the scheme from the first days, said this draft has basically met the wishes of the business community, the most important thing now is the decision of the Government and the implementation work of the General Department of Customs.
She also said the Government and the Prime Minister have had many directions to reform the specialised inspection as well as import-export activities, the reform has paid off, but there but still have not yet solved a number of issues, especially coordination with relevant ministries and agencies at the border gate. “The business community is especially consistent when discussing solutions to reform the specialised inspection from the first day of approaching the idea until now when it comes to detailed discussions. 99% of enterprises say that if the Government is determined to implement solutions to reform specialised inspection, it will really be a revolution in import-export activities,”said Thuy.
Tran DucNghia, the representative of the Vietnam logistics business association (VLA) said the VLA agreed on the policy of the scheme and committed to accompanying the management agency in the implementation. However, the scheme should introduce solutions to deal with conflicts when enterprises do not accept the specialised inspection results.
From the perspective of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), Dau Anh Tuan – Head of the Legal Department, said he highly appreciated the careful research and consultation with ministries and agencies of the drafting board. Many VCCI’s opinions were recognised in this draft. In particular, the scheme has been adjusted in the content during the development but still clearly identifies the goal of reducing costs and time for enterprises. This is something that needs to be focusedon and reflected more clearly in the draft scheme as well as the draft decree. Dau Anh Tuan stated that the scheme should allow enterprises to have more rights to choose their conformity assessment agencies, but the draft must clarify how to implement this effectively in practice. It is important not only to facilitate import-export activities but also to ensure fairness and transparency for the participation of conformity assessment agencies.
Given the support of stakeholders and the determination and urgent implementation of directions of the Government and the Ministry of Finance to fundamentally reform specialised inspection for import–export goods, the General Department of Customs has researched and developed the scheme on reforming the model of quality inspection and food safety inspection for import goods. The General Department of Customs has also established a drafting unit for the scheme on reforming the model of specialised inspection for import-export goods; the Ministry of Finance has established a working group to implement the Government’s directions on the specialised inspection reform; organised a lot of meetings with domestic, international experts, associations, businesses andresearchers and reported to the Government Office and received directions and comments from ministries and agencies in the development of a scheme reforming the model of quality inspection and food safety inspection for import goods. Along with that, the General Department of Customs also researched and accumulated experience in the implementation of countries to apply in Vietnam to build a new model of quality inspection and food safety inspection for import goods.
The scheme adheres to the target of cutting costs and time and creating favourable conditions for enterprises, improving the competitiveness of the economy based on substantive reform of the specialised inspection towards the Customs agency as the focal point of quality inspection and food safety inspection for import goods at the border gate, ensuring the effectiveness of State management and protecting legitimate rights and interests of production and business organisations and individuals and consumers.
By N. Linh/ Huyen Trang