VCN- Regarding the reform of quality inspection and food safety inspection for imports, Ms. Pham Thi Ngoc Thuy, Chief Executive Officer of the Private Sector Development Office (Committee IV) under the Advisory Council to the Prime Minister on Administrative Procedures Reform, spoke about current problems and challenges that need to be overcome to achieve set goals.
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|Ms. Pham Thi Ngoc Thuy.|
In terms of the draft decree regulating the management mechanism, methods, processes and procedures for quality control and food safety inspection for imports, can it meet the Government’s goal on the reform of specialized inspection?
To answer this question, it is necessary to talk about problems related to the specialized inspection that enterprises have mentioned over the years.
The difficulties and shortcomings have been mentioned by enterprises many times and recognized by the Government.
Many products subject to specialized inspection are managed by many ministries and government agencies, prolonging the time and increasing the cost of implementation and compliance. The specialized inspection is conducted for each consignment instead of by item combined with performing risk assessment measures.
In addition, enterprises have complained about red tape in implementing specialized inspection, causing difficulties.
On the other hand, the inspection is performed by many agencies, so that an enterprise has to interact on many IT systems to carry out and complete procedures for the inspection.
The Government’s direction in reforming the specialized inspection toward assigning the Customs authority as the focal point with improvement in performance measures and methods is the great expectations of the business community to remove difficulties in the inspection.
Many have said that the inspection is led by Customs while the inspection capacity belongs to ministries and government agencies, and the connection of procedures of 13 ministries and government agencies to the National Single Window is still not effective, this will create risks for Customs and the management agencies. Could you tell us about this?
During drafting and developing the legal framework, we have recognized concerns in meetings between the ministries and the Customs authority. However, the draft decree has overcome these obstacles.
Firstly, the Customs does not replace the conformity assessment for imports. The Customs authority plays a role as the focal point to implement and regulate, and agencies appointed to conduct the specialized inspection still perform and publicize their information for businesses to select them for inspection. Thus, the ministries and government agencies are completely assured that the assessed and designated systems are still maintained. Customs as the focal point is in charge of regulating and performing at the entry border gate.
Second, the execution on the National Single Window Portal by ministries and government agencies is different, so that the business still has to go through procedures at many agencies and face obstacles. If the inspection is conducted by a focal point, the problems will be handled by only one agency. The Ministry of Finance (the Customs authority) will be under a lot of pressure, because they are responsible to the Government for all performance by ministries and government agencies. It is both a difficulty and a challenge for Customs, but it is also an opportunity for Customs to achieve breakthroughs in the reform process.
To implement reform contents in the draft Decree, what are the bottlenecks that need to be removed?
Regarding the management of goods subject to specialized inspection, ministries and government agencies have both issued management policies and implemented these policies. If complying with the reform orientation, ministries and agencies must transfer nearly half of the functions and tasks to other agencies. They voiced concern about this. To support the Government to make major policies, this problem needs to be overcome.
The ministries and government agencies have still focused on pre-inspection. The imports will be subject to the specialized inspection by ministries and then by Customs. The post clearance audit is applied to some items. Although regulations on the post-clearance audit were issued, the actual performance has not yet been effective.
With the new reform, ministries are in charge of developing and revising polices for effective performance in the import process, and Customs as the focal point, then ministries will conduct the post clearance audit after the goods are traded on the market. If ministries and agencies do not determine and improve their management capacity for goods after the customs clearance, this is also a big barrier for reform.
The next problem belongs to Customs. The authority is in charge of performing many difficult and complicated functions and tasks. Now, it has to implement new tasks. Customs will suffer from more challenges and responsibility, and transfer this task into the new capacity of the system.
The information technology platform is the foundation for the entire process of coordination, administration and direction. The big reform in development of the platform is allowing businesses to access historical data in imports and exports to reduce procedures for the next import. It is not easy to operate smoothly between agencies and units and between focal agencies and businesses. This is also a huge challenge for the Customs. There needs to be the participation of experts and the effective coordination of related parties to overcome this challenge.