New Customs Authority is the gateway to Timor-Leste’s prosperity
The new Customs Authority is the gateway to the prosperity of Timor-Leste. It is the place from which the government controls what comes in, and what goes out of the country, including people, goods, vehicles, ships and aircrafts. It is an important source of revenue and helps to secure the nation’s borders.
For Customs to work properly, it must adhere to strict international standards in order to meet the needs of the nation’s growing population and economy. Timor-Leste’s new Customs Authority must ensure that the country can meet four critical challenges which will impact on the future prosperity of the country.
The first challenge is making sure that revenue is properly collected. Right now, Timor-Leste loses a great deal of revenue because of inefficient and non-transparent systems and bad practice. As a major source of revenue for the Government, Customs must collect the right amount of revenue and do so in a fair and transparent way.
The second challenge is how Customs can help protect Timor-Leste’s borders. The Customs Authority is responsible for making sure that illegal and dangerous goods don’t enter the country, including weapons and drugs. Customs officials also have to make sure that legal goods meet national standards across food safety, agriculture, chemicals (including pesticides and fertilizers), medicines and livestock. These standards are to protect Timorese flora and fauna and to protect Timorese people.
The third challenge is how Customs can contribute to economic growth. Attracting new investments is a major objective of the government and the growing business community in Timor-Leste will expect more efficiency from Customs. Timor-Leste’s Customs Authority will also play a major role in facilitating trade between the ASEAN, CPLP and Asia Pacific and markets.
The fourth major challenge is how Customs will manage the increasing number of people coming in, and going out, of the country. Whether for tourism, for employment or for business, there are more people from a greater variety of countries who come to Timor-Leste each year. People may not be aware of the rules for importing goods into country, or they may come from countries that are source countries for illegal drugs. All this has to be monitored by Customs.
Since late 2014, Customs has undergone many changes to improve how it works. These changes include updating the laws that govern Customs activities, bringing in new IT systems to modernize and automate how goods are processed and how revenue is collected, and making sure Customs officials have the right skills to perform their job properly. In October 2016, the Council of Minister passed the new Customs Code and the Revised Arusha Declaration which provides the legal basis for the reforms and embeds integrity within all processes.
The new Customs Authority will be guided by four core values:
Integrity is the foundation of the new Customs Authority. Integrity means that officials will treat all people the same and apply the law fairly. Integrity requires that Customs officials act with honesty and openness. In this way, the new Customs Authority will promote good governance.
The new Customs Authority will strive for professionalism in all practices. The procedures for imports and exports are being simplified and standardized to international practice and the Timor-Leste Harmonized Tariff classifications facilitates the faster movement of goods across international borders. New IT systems through ASYCUDA World create swift customs clearances which shorten waiting times for goods in transit, customs release and clearance.
The new Customs Code ensures that Customs will publish rules, directives or any changes to the Code and allow Customs to consult with the private and public sector on various issues. The Code also makes it clear what information importers and exporters need, including records that they have to keep for auditing purposes.
Respect will form the basis for how customs officials will deal with clients. Respect means being sensitive and responsive to the rights of all individuals. Respect requires that customs officials act with courtesy and consideration at all times. And finally, respect of clients means providing excellent customer service.
The new Customs Authority will:
These reforms will bring many benefits and increase prosperity for the country, for businesses and for the people of Timor-Leste.