PM says 2015 a year for customs reforms

HA NOI - Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung urged the country's customs sector to push administrative and institutional reforms in 2015 during a meeting with officials from the Ministry of Finance and the sector yesterday.

He said the efforts were of vital importance to facilitating trade, travel, import and export activities, promoting tourism and ultimately contributing to the country's socio-economic development and global integration.

"Maintaining growth remains a core objective for Viet Nam's economy, and global integration is the key to achieving that objective. Without markets, without trade it would be impossible to maintain growth," said the PM.

Firms spent an average of 21 days in 2012 and 2013 fulfilling procedural requirements for their imports and exports, with 5.88 days spent on customs procedures and 15.12 days taken up by other domestic agencies, according to the World Bank.

PM Dung said administrative reforms in the customs sector would greatly affect investment, the business environment and the country's ability to compete in the global economy.

"Reforms will continue to be a major political objective for the Government, not just for this year, but for the years to come," said the PM.

He ordered the Ministry of Finance and Customs authorities to take the initiative by reviewing and evaluating current administrative procedures to detect and resolve bottlenecks as well as time-wasting procedures.

"Governmental offices must not be afraid to change regulations they have set themselves for fear of public outcry. The interests of the country and the people must remain the driving force behind reforms," PM Dung said.

To bring about true reform, he asked the Viet Nam Fatherland Front, the media and the business community keep a watchful eye on the process.

In his report, Finance Minister Dinh Tien Dung said the 2014 Customs Law had laid a solid foundation for modernising customs management and simplifying procedures.

Customs departments nationwide have used the Viet Nam Automated Cargo and Port Consolidated System and the Viet Nam Customs Information System (VNACCS/VCIS) since November 2014.

However, ASEAN and national one-stop-shop customs mechanisms have been introduced to test their effectiveness. The Ministry of Industry and Trade started using the new system in its administrative procedures last December at 12 international seaports, Dung said.

In Saigon Zone 1 Port, the time needed for imports to clear customs decreased 18 per cent from 2013 to about 34 hours. The time required for exports is now under 7 hours, down 58 per cent.

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh suggested embracing technological advances, boosting linkages among ministries and building a common database to keep track of imports and exports.

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam proposed making ministries process trans-border packages under a 21-day time limit.