Digital transformation - foundation to build a smart and modern Customs, Director General of Customs Nguyen Van Can

VCN - Overcoming many volatile and unpredictable difficulties and challenges in 2022, but with great efforts and determination, the Customs sector has achieved many successes in all aspects, creating an important premise to realize development goals in the new period, focusing on digital transformation to build a smart and modern Customs, Director General of Customs Nguyen Van Can told Customs News on the eve of the Lunar New Year 2023.
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Digital transformation - foundation to build a smart and modern Customs, Director General of Customs Nguyen Van Can
Director General of Customs Nguyen Van Can

Assessing the performance in 2022, the leader of the customs sector said the whole sector achieved comprehensive results in all aspects of work, notably submitting to the Prime Minister for approval of the Customs Development Strategy until 2030; the Minister of Finance approved the Action Program of the Ministry of Finance to implement the Customs Development Strategy until 2030 and issued the Plan on reform, development and modernization of the Customs sector up to 2025; budget revenue reached VND440 trillion for the first time; the fight against smuggling and fraud gained many victories, making an important contribution to setting a record of surpassing US$ 700 billion in trade turnover.

Would you tell us about the contribution of the Customs sector to the US$700 billion in trade turnover?

Director General Nguyen Van Can:

The figure of US$700 billion in import and export turnover reflects the increasing openness of the economy in integration and development; demonstrating Vietnam's deep engagement in the global production and supply chain and affirming Vietnam as a favorable business and investment environment for foreign investors.

Customs reform and simplification of administrative procedures, and modernization to facilitate trade activities have been identified as key and cross-cutting task.

In 2022, import and export activities continued to face many difficulties due to the influence of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the Russia- Ukraine conflict, the Customs had offered many solutions to accompany businesses, clear the flow of import and export goods and boost economic recovery and development.

Regarding mechanisms and policies, the General Department of Customs advised the Ministry of Finance to submit to the Government for promulgation Resolution No. 106/NQ-CP on tax policies for aid goods imported; request the Standing Committee of the National Assembly to issue Resolution No. 10/2021/UBTVQH15 on extending the storage time of goods at duty-free shops, warehouses of duty-free enterprises, and goods deposited in bonded warehouses to satisfy requirements for Covid-19 pandemic prevention and control. In addition, The General Department of Vietnam Customs established a mechanism to update information to serve the assessment of the impact of the Russia - Ukraine conflict on Vietnam's import and export activities and proposed solutions to support import-export enterprises.

Facing cargo congestion at the Northern border gates due to China's "Zero Covid" policy, the General Department of Customs established a working group to solve problems related to customs procedures to support businesses; increased the working time of the Customs units from 8 hours to 10 hours, and arranged officers to work overtime and carry out customs procedures 24/7.

The General Department of Customs has also made efforts to fulfill its role as the Standing Agency of the National Steering Committee on ASEAN Single Window, National Single Window and Trade Facilitation (Committee 1899).

In addition, the reform results of Customs Departments such as Ho Chi Minh City, Hai Phong, and Quang Ninh have made an important contribution to improving the provincial competitiveness index (PCI) of localities.

Performing the task of state management of customs, the Customs sector promptly detected loopholes, shortcomings and inadequacies from mechanisms and policies, and fluctuations in the trade flow, thereby proposing competent authorities to amend and supplement policies to help protect domestic production and the reputation of Vietnamese goods. The Customs sector clearly shows its role, position and contribution to the country’s economic development and international integration. Could you tell us more about this?

Director General Nguyen Van Can:

As the role of "doorkeeper of the economy", from practical management, the Customs sector has actively detected abnormalities and given proposals to complete regulations on the origin and labeling of goods; regulations on the management of temporary import for re-export businesses and bonded warehouses.

For the import of agricultural products, the General Department of Customs said even though Vietnam is an agricultural country, Vietnam still spends billions of USD to import agricultural products. The Customs authorities promptly reported and offered timely solutions to overcome this situation, and support production activities and farmers' lives. Typically, it is proposed to amend and supplement the list of domestically produced goods, including corn kernels.

2022 recorded outstanding achievements in revenue collection of the Customs sector, would you like to specify the results?

Director General Nguyen Van Can:

To effectively perform the task of budget collection, from the beginning of 2022, the General Department of Customs issued Directive 439/CT-TCHQ on the implementation of measures to facilitate trade and improve the effectiveness of State management and combat revenue loss.

This shows that the Customs has made efforts to drastically and effectively implement solutions to facilitate trade to promote import and export growth, associated with solutions to strengthen the anti-loss of revenue through code, value, quantity, C/O together with the participation of anti-smuggling; post-clearance audit and inspection authorities.

The results of the budget revenue make an important contribution to ensuring the national financial potential to realize the goals of economic development and social security, especially the implementation of post-economic recovery and development packages.

In recent years, the fight against crime and smuggling and trade fraud in the Customs sector has had many positive changes, what is your assessment of the results in 2022?

Director General Nguyen Van Can:

In the trend of globalization and the strong development of science and technology, transnational crime and smuggling activities are very complicated. In addition to traditional tricks, criminals have taken advantage of the achievements of the Industrial Revolution 4.0 to carry out information exchange, transactions and payment via electronic methods, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. On the other hand, criminals have carried out acts of smuggling and transporting of banned goods through the border gate.

The Customs sector has identified the tricks and actively developed solutions and plans. In particular, through each specific case, the Customs sector has analyzed the methods, tricks and plans to fight and drawn experience. In 2022, the General Department of Customs held a conference to exchange skills and experience in anti-smuggling in the field of customs.

Moreover, the General Department of Customs has continued to perform well the role of Standing Agency 389 of the Ministry of Finance.

Regarding the fight against drug crimes, the transnational drug crime situation is complicated at all borders and border gates and tends to increase with many sophisticated methods and tricks, and reckless acts, especially from the second quarter of 2022 when Vietnam applied the policy of herd immunity and import, export and immigration activities were restored.

Drugs transported into Vietnam via border routes are mainly heroin, methamphetamine, synthetic drugs, opium, marijuana, cocaine, and khat leaves. In 2022, the Customs authority seized synthetic drugs hidden in packages of candy, chocolate, coffee, etc., transported by air.

Drug criminals no longer avoid border gate areas and customs operation areas as before. The General Department of Customs has requested the units to carry out measures in combination with using specialized tools; strengthen coordination with domestic and international authorities to handle cases in a timely fashion.

Notably, the Customs authority has presided over and coordinated with other authorities to successfully bust many large and specialized cases related to illegal drug trafficking and transportation involving many provinces and cities across the country, and arrest the masterminds and leaders, including Vietnamese and foreigners.

Typically, the Hanoi Customs Department and the Ho Chi Minh City Customs Department have presided over dozens of cases of cross-border drug transportation by air, seizing hundreds of kilograms of drugs of all kinds, many times higher than in previous years.

Quang Tri Customs Department presided over seizing the transport of eight heroin packages hidden in a consignment of blowers; Hai Phong Customs Department coordinated with others to stop a cross-border drug transport line, seizing more than 30 kg of drugs of all kinds.

Under the close direction of the leaders of the General Department of Customs, the skills, qualifications and bravery of the anti-drug force, the Customs sector has achieved outstanding results.

Mobilizing resources to implement the Customs Development Strategy until 2030

On May 20, 2022, Deputy Prime Minister Le Minh Khai signed Decision No. 628/QD-TTg approving the Customs Development Strategy until 2030. On September 13, 2022, the Minister of Finance Ho Duc Phoc signed Decision No. 1855/QD-BTC issuing the Plan on Customs Reform, Development and Modernization to 2025. Could you tell us about the importance of the Strategy and the Plan for the development of Vietnam Customs?

Director General Nguyen Van Can:

In the Customs Development Strategy to 2030, Customs aims to build a professional and modern Vietnam Customs, on par with the Customs administrations of developed countries in the world, leading in implementing the Digital Government, with Digital Customs model, and Smart Customs model.

Accordingly, the Plan on Customs Reform, Development and to 2025 determines that by 2025, the customs basically complete the Digital Customs in the direction of the Digital Government, creating a foundation to build a Smart Customs, on the basis of further improving the institutional system of State management of Customs, ensuring a full legal basis for the implementation of comprehensive digital transformation of the Customs sector. Two important documents mentioned above are a guideline for the direction and development of the Customs sector in the future.

The General Department of Customs is requesting customs units to urgently complete to Plan of Customs Reform, Development and Modernization by 2025 of the Customs Departments of provinces and cities.

A key goal in the 10-year strategy and the five-year plan is to implement Digital Customs and Smart Customs, according to the Director General, which groups of solutions should be focused on to quickly realize this important task?

Director General Nguyen Van Can:

For successful digital transformation, the Customs sector has been focusing on three key tasks and solutions including:

First, promoting the digital transformation of the Customs sector in line with the digital transformation orientation of the Government and the Ministry of Finance, focusing on redesigning the information technology system and successfully building Digital Customs, and Smart Customs;

Second, implementing the National Single Window and the ASEAN Single Window with the goal that by 2025 the customs will have an information technology system able to carry out 100% of administrative procedures of ministries and sectors related to import and export activities;

Third, build a centralized database on import and export goods to serve the business community and the management of the Customs and related ministries and agencies.

The process of reform, modernization and trade facilitation requires the connection, cooperation and companionship of ministries, agencies and businesses, especially in the reform of specialized inspection, so what cooperation does the Customs sector need from relevant ministries and agencies?

Director General Nguyen Van Can:

Thanks to the close direction of the Government, the Prime Minister, leaders of the Ministry of Finance and the joint efforts of ministries, agencies and the business community, the Customs sector achieved remarkable results in reforming administrative procedures and facilitating import and export activities.

The Ministry of Finance, as the standing agency of the 1899 Committee, actively coordinated with the ministries and agencies to regularly review legal documents on the management and inspection of import and export goods for revision and supplement to support businesses, reduce customs clearance time and of goods, and solve problems and inadequacies in the implementation process.

However, to meet the requirements of the Government and urgent expectations of the business community, the reform and trade facilitation, especially specialized inspection for imported and exported goods, should be further improved

The Ministry of Finance (the General Department of Customs) has worked with other related ministries to develop a Decree on management mechanisms, methods, orders and procedures for quality inspection and food safety for imported goods (Decree) and other tasks assigned by the Government in Decision No. 38/QD-TTg.

Although the Customs authorities have made great efforts, the actual implementation still faces many difficulties due to obstacles and inadequacies and many contents of the plan have not been achieved according to the plan and expectations of enterprises.

Therefore, the General Department of Customs expects further effective cooperation from ministries and agencies to soon complete and submit to the Government for promulgation a Decree on connection and information sharing in the fields of export, import and transit of goods, exit, entry and transit of people and means of transport under the National Single Window to provide practical and effective benefits to the business community and meet management requirements and tasks assigned by the Government at Decision No. 38/QD-TTg.

For regular tasks, which key solutions should the Customs sector focus on to complete the assigned tasks in 2023?

Director General Nguyen Van Can:

To complete the assigned tasks in 2023, the whole sector must seriously and effectively carry out solutions set out in the conference to review performance in 2022 and implement tasks for 2023 of the General Department of Customs.

For anti-smugging, the situation of transnational crime, in the area of customs operations and criminals using high technology for smuggling and trade in banned goods is increasingly complicated, therefore, the customs authority must strengthen information collection, analysis and assessment to promptly identify new tricks and take the initiative in fighting measures; and effectively control drug in all stages, routes, and areas.

The anti-smuggling work should be implemented methodically and scientifically from the planning stage, information collection to solving. After a case, it is necessary to make a report to review and assess shortcomings and promote good experiences and lessons.

The anti-smuggling process requires skillful and effective coordination of forces inside and outside the sector and international cooperation and enhance and effective use of equipment.

Continuing the goal of building a professional and modern Vietnam Customs

To build a professional and modern Vietnam Customs as the goal set out in the Customs Development Strategy until 2030, the most important task is to build a contingent of professional Customs officers, so what are the requirements for capacity building, General Director?

Director General Nguyen Van Can:

The human issue is always a key factor, so the Customs sector will focus on building and developing a contingent of customs officers with qualifications, deep skills, integrity, and professional working style, master of modern technology and equipment, who are arranged in appropriated positions in accordance with their own capacity and meeting the modern customs management model.

The contingent of strategic civil servants is qualified, skillful and prestigious and elite to meet the requirements of tasks in the new situation. In addition, the customs will build a team of professional experts; promote customs integrity and focus on training political and ideological moral qualities; boost training to improve capacity and qualifications; tighten administrative discipline; strictly follow regulations on costumes to build the image of professional and modern Customs officers.

Together with human resources, the organization in the long term is also set out to adapt to the implementation of Digital Customs, Smart Customs and is also a matter of great concern to customs officers, could you share the orientation for the organization of the customs apparatus in the future?

Director General Nguyen Van Can:

According to the Customs Development Strategy until 2030, the Customs apparatus organization has three levels (General Department, Region and Branch) towards streamlining, reducing intermediaries and ensuring efficiency to meet management requirements according to a centralized and smart customs operation model.

The immediate and long-term tasks posed to the Customs sector are very challenging, but this is also an opportunity for us to further affirm the role and importance of Vietnam Customs in the country’s development and integration process.

I wish the staff of civil servants, public employees and employees to promote the tradition, make efforts to strive and succeed in assigned tasks in 2023 and goals to develop Vietnam Customs to 2030.

On the occasion of the Lunar New Year 2023, on behalf of the leadership of the General Department of Customs, I respectfully send to generations of civil servants, public employees, and employees of the Customs sector through different periods in all regions of the country happiness and success!

Thank you very much

By Thai Binh/ Huyen Trang

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