Reform of specialized inspection is an inevitable trend

VCN – The reform and simplification of specialized inspection procedures for imported and exported goods has had many positive results, however, the scope for reform is still very large.
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Saigon port area 4 Customs officers inspect imported goods. Photo: T.H
Saigon port area 4 Customs officers inspect imported goods. Photo: T.H

Reform of specialized inspection is a long-term work

At a recent meeting with some ministries and agencies on the Government's draft Decree stipulating the management mechanism, methods, order and procedures for quality inspection and food safety inspection for imported goods, Deputy Minister of Finance Nguyen Duc Chi said that reform is an inevitable trend. The Ministry of Finance expects quick reform to offer the best solution to support businesses.

The reform of specialized inspection procedures has been implemented for many years, especially from 2015 to present under Decision 2026/QD-TTg approving the Project on solutions to improve operational effectiveness and efficiency of specialized inspection activities for imported and exported goods. Besides the achieved results, there are still shortcomings such as there are too many legal documents related to industrial inspection activities, a lack of detail instructions and consistency in related regulations. There are still conflicts in legal documents on specialized management, and the inspection efficiency is not high.

When Decision 38/QD-TTg of the Prime Minister approving the Project on reforming the quality inspection and food safety inspection model for imported goods was issued in early 2021, it is expected to be a breakthrough that removes existing inadequacies.

The project aims to comprehensively reforming regulations on quality inspection and food safety inspection for imported goods in the direction of enhanced application of information technology, risk management, simplification of procedures of quality inspection and food safety inspection for imported goods; reducing contact points between businesses and regulatory agencies. The results of the regulatory agencies will be sent to the Customs agency to carry out specialized inspection procedures and food safety inspection for imported goods and carry out customs procedures. Thereby cutting costs and customs clearance time for imported goods.

During about 3 years of developing the draft Decree to implement the reform goals stated in Decision 38/2021/QD-TTg, the Drafting Committee has organized consultations, meetings and seminars with ministries and agencies and businesses to gather comments, revise and complete the draft Decree. The drafting agency has continuously improved it many times in the spirit of closely following the reform contents approved by the Government and absorbing reasonable opinions. The reform was strongly supported by ministries, agencies and Government members, but some ministries still had other opinions. Recently, the Ministry of Finance (General Department of Customs) has continued to work with these ministries to come to a unified solution.

At the meeting at the end of 2023, Deputy Prime Minister Tran Luu Quang concluded that assigning the Ministry of Finance to work with the Ministries: Industry and Trade, Science and Technology, Agriculture and Rural Development, Transport, Health and Justice to thoroughly review the draft Decree, apply reform principles under the Government's authority, ensure compliance with specialized laws and take full responsibility for the received contents, explanations and amendments to the draft Decree.

For the goal of cutting costs and customs clearance time

At many meetings, Deputy Minister of Finance Nguyen Duc Chi assessed this draft Decree as a difficult document. When developing the draft, the Ministry of Finance and the General Department of Customs want to set out "long steps" for state management reform on quality inspection and food safety inspection for imported goods.

However, with the prolonging in finalizing the Decree due to different opinions from a number of ministries and agencies, Deputy Minister of Finance Nguyen Duc Chi in a recent meeting also expressed his impatience and request ministries to give specific opinions. “Reform is an inevitable trend. However, in each field: Health, Transport, Science and Technology, Agriculture and Rural Development, Industry and Trade... there are specialized products so ministries should give specific opinion or proactively review and report to the National Assembly, the Government, and the Prime Minister on each ministry's reform plan," said by the leader of the Ministry of Finance.

Representatives of the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Industry and Trade, Science and Technology all expect to assign the reform work to each ministry. Because each product has specialized characteristics. The same method cannot apply for many commodity groups, it is inappropriate. Ministries will review each field in detail and have appropriate roadmaps and methods for each field. Specialized ministries, in their role, must be responsible for innovating and improving the management. At the same time, it is proposed to continue upgrading and improving the National Single Window System to connect with ministries and agencies.

Meanwhile, the representative of the Ministry of Transport supported the plan on issuing the Decree and implement it synchronously on the National Single Window Portal. During the process of developing the draft Decree, the Ministry of Transport had five written comments and one vote of Government members. All opinions have been explained by the Ministry of Finance. With the explanation by the Ministry of Finance and through many meetings, the Ministry of Transport found that the draft Decree only provides principles for implementing registration and implementation on single window, and the methods and procedures are still covered by the specialized ministries. When there is a problems related to product’s quality, the specialized ministries will be responsible. However, in the field of transportation, the Ministry of Transport needs to work directly with the Drafting Committee to clarify and adjust contents according to the specifics of the field.

Also at the meeting, discussing the issue of specialized inspection reform, associated with implementation on the National Single Window Portal, Director of the Customs Control and Supervision Department Au Anh Tuan said that the review of the Customs agency and opinions from businesses show that quality inspection and food safety inspection procedures still have many shortcomings such as they are still processed manually and are not digitized. Not all procedures are implemented on the National Single Window Portal, some are processed on the private system of each ministry and then the results will be updated to the National Single Window Portal. Therefore, when implementing the customs clearance, the Customs cannot automatically check because the results updated on the National Single Window Portal are still in scanned form and have not been digitized.

“Therefore, if all procedures of specialized ministries are processed on the National Single Window Portal or Online Public Service Portal of ministries and State agencies, and the processing results shall be sent to the National Single Window Portal and the Customs shall rely on those results on the National Single Window to conduct customs clearance, it is necessary to review all regulations and procedures on the portal, information criteria to ensure that all the information criteria are digitalized and the returning results are digitalized” Mr. Au Anh Tuan analyzed.

Based on the opinions of ministries and agencies, Deputy Minister Nguyen Duc Chi said that a general reform solution for all products and goods is not appropriate, the Ministry of Finance will report and propose the Deputy Prime Minister to report the Prime Minister on calling a meeting with the ministries, on that basis, the ministries will report directly and the Deputy Prime Minister to provide direction on this issue.

The leader of the Ministry of Finance also affirmed that whether the fast or slow specialized inspection is the responsibility of the ministries and State agencies. Regarding the system, the Customs agency is responsible for connecting to avoid interruption. For the general reform goal of reducing costs and customs clearance time for goods subject to specialized inspection, ministries and State agencies should connect with the Ministry of Finance and the General Department of Customs. In case of necessity, Decree 85/2019/ND-CP will be revised to unify information targets to connect the National Single Window and ASEAN Single Window.

By Ngoc Linh/ Huyen Trang

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