Lang Son: Can a digital border gate platform solve the problem of congestion?

VCN - The Digital Border Gate Platform has been piloted by the People's Committee of Lang Son Province at Huu Nghi international border gate and Tan Thanh border gate from January 2022 and is expected to be a solution to solve the problem of goods congestion. However, the platform has been operating for nine months; it has neither facilitated import-export activities nor met the management requirements.
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Both enterprises and Customs are entangled

Since 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, Tan Thanh border gate has been one of the few border gates that maintained import and export activities. However, with the "Zero Covid" policy from the Chinese side, China required the establishment of a green zone at the border gate and regularly changed delivery methods. Therefore, agricultural products sometimes go to this border gate increased to several thousand vehicles, and it takes several months to transport the goods.

It was the most stressful time of the Covid-19 pandemic, but when the pandemic is under control, the volume of export goods through the Tan Thanh border gate to China is insignificant. Furthermore, many vehicles carrying goods of traders and enterprises have to go through an online declaration on the Digital Border Gate Platform before entering the border area to continue proceeding, causing congestion. Therefore, most enterprises face difficulties carrying out export procedures on the Digital Border Gate Platform at the Tan Thanh border gate.

Deputy Director General of the General Department of Customs Luu Manh Tuong inspects the declaration process on the Digital Border Gate Platform at Tan Thanh border gate. Photo: H.Nu
Deputy Director General of the General Department of Customs Luu Manh Tuong inspects the declaration process on the Digital Border Gate Platform at Tan Thanh border gate. Photo: H.Nu

Ms Chu Kim Lien, a trader who regularly carries out export procedures for agricultural products through the Tan Thanh border gate, said that since the beginning of this year, her company had lost much time and human resources to make declarations on the Digital Border Gate Platform. Specifically, the company has to send a staff to work on the computer to correct information when there is an error and send another one to the headquarters of the authorities to report the correction. In particular, when there is an error, the company must correct the whole process while the border gate area is far from the authorities' headquarters.

This is the problem of enterprises; enforcement agency such as Customs is much more difficult. According to Ms Dao Thu Lan, Director of Tan Thanh Border Gate Customs Branch (Lang Son Customs Department, the Customs Branch operates and uses the IT system of the Customs sector, while the digital border gate platform uses a separate system with a separate computer, so Customs officers have to perform the task with two systems on two different computers. This has increased the workload because when the vehicle arrives at the inspection location, the Customs officer has to filter and search for declarations and vehicles to confirm on the Digital Border Gate Platform. Then, the Customs officer must search for the declaration to confirm it on the system of the Customs sector on the internal computer. Therefore, implementing the same content on the same two different systems has increased workload for Customs officers, which requires Tan Thanh Customs to have sufficient officers to meet management requirements.

According to the regulations, the shipment has been cleared, and the vehicle carrying the goods has completed all procedures, but on the Digital Border Gate Platform, there is still a lack of confirmation from an agency; the Customs officer shall not be able to confirm for the vehicle, which also partly delays the customs clearance of goods, Ms Dao Thu Lan said.

At Huu Nghi international border gate, Ms Nguyen Thi Huong - a private enterprise based in Lang Son province, said that, in normal conditions (no pandemic), the enterprise only sent one staff to implement procedures. The goods will be cleared and delivered to the partner when the procedures are completed. But now, enterprises have to send four employees to carry out the Digital Border Gate Platform procedures. This takes a lot of time and human resources, not to mention if the internet has problems; all procedures cannot be completed soon.

Deputy Director General Luu Manh Tuong inspects the process of receiving and processing information on the Digital Border Gate Platform of the Customs at Huu Nghi international border gate. Photo: H.Nu
Deputy Director General Luu Manh Tuong inspects the process of receiving and processing information on the Digital Border Gate Platform of the Customs at Huu Nghi international border gate. Photo: H.Nu

Meanwhile, according to Mr Nguyen Hong Linh, Director of Lang Son Customs Department, the digital border gate platform builds four steps to collect truck-to-truck transhipment fees for Chinese vehicles applied to the Huu international border gate, the steps are not specified in Decision 941/QD-UBND dated by the People's Committee of Lang Son province. According to this 4-step process, if in the first step, the Chinese driver does not have information to declare to the Border Guard and fully update information on the data fields such as declaration number, type of goods, and company name, then go to the second step, the customs officer cannot confirm import and export type exactly. Therefore, if the customs officer tries to confirm, it will lead to the risk of identifying the wrong import and export type, causing a loss of time and humans. Moreover, confirming the results of the authorities on the digital border gate platform has created the rights for the authorities to decide the release of goods out of the customs area.

It is necessary to revise the processes on the Digital Border Gate Platform

Most businesses recommend that Lang Son province revise the Digital Border Gate Platform processes early to meet the reality and minimize time and cost for businesses in terms of recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic.

To minimize the paperwork, time, and human resources and speed up the time to release goods and vehicles through the border gate while ensuring the strict state management of customs, Mr Nguyen Hong Linh suggests that the People's Committee of Lang Son province should complete the functions and processes on the digital border gate platform soon to meet the automation in import-export activities, integrate data from the database of the Customs authority such as declaration number, import-export type, weight, value, vehicle information.

Noting the problems from businesses as well as the local Customs units and through the physical inspection of the import-export situation at the border gates in Lang Son province, the working group of the 389 National Steering Committee realized that although there are not many goods in the border gate areas at this time, the congestion still occurs due to difficulties in implementing processes on the Digital Border Gate Platform.

Leaders of the Lang Son Provincial People's Committee worked with the working group of the 389 National Steering Committee to understand problems. Photo: Quang Hung
Lhe Leader of the Lang Son Provincial People's Committee worked with the working group of the 389 National Steering Committee to understand problems. Photo: Quang Hung

According to Dang Van Ngoc, Deputy Head of the Standing Agency of the 389 Steering Committee, Director of Lang Son Market Surveillance Department, when vehicles arrive at the border gate, businesses have to declare procedures on the digital border gate platform. Meanwhile, each agency operates a private system, which makes businesses have to declare information on many systems, consuming more resources, time and costs.

Leading the working group the 389 National Steering Committee to inspect the actual situation of import and export of goods in Lang Son province, Deputy General Director of the General Department of Customs Luu Manh Tuong said that the problems that enterprises and Customs in Lang Son province are encountering when carrying out export procedures must be reviewed and solved soon. In particular, Lang Son province should study and improve the process to reduce time, costs and resources for businesses and enforcement agencies at the border gate.

Receiving comments and recommendations from businesses and the working group, Ms Doan Thu Ha, Vice Chairman of the People's Committee, Head of the National Steering Committee 389, said that the province Lang Son will promote investment in the construction, expansion and upgrading of border gate infrastructure, invest, research, perfect and exploit the digital platform, especially the digital border gate platform to facilitate the import and export procedures for businesses.

However, according to Ms Doan Thu Ha, each agency must operate its system when performing tasks in management. Therefore, Lang Son province proposed that to perfect the Digital Border Gate Platform, the agencies should share information to unify processes, optimize time, costs and human resources, and facilitate enterprises and enforcement agencies.

By Nu Bui-Quang Hung/ Huyen Trang

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