By Tatiana Vlasova
Among them is the customs service, explains the Deputy Chairman of the State Customs Committee, Sergey Borisyuk, answering our questions.
Last year, Customs Union legislation was prepared. By July 1st, all issues relating to customs regulation of economic activity will have been settled and, on January 1st, 2012, the Single Economic Space will come into force. Are the customs services of our three countries already working in a united fashion?
Customs services’ teamwork within this union is vital. Customs legislation of the Customs Union is ready. In line with the Customs Code of the Customs Union and other international agreements of member-states, about 45 regulations of the Customs Union’s commission have been adopted. We are now working together to eliminate the irregularities which occurred due to the quick formation and, then, implementation, of Customs Union legislation. The normal working process is underway.
The Customs Union has given our Belarusian Customs Service greater responsibility, since it is the entry gate to two unions: that of the Customs Union and the EU. A year ago, the Belarusian Customs Committee stressed that greater volumes of counterfeit goods and illegal smuggling were being seen through the Belarusian border. Is that still the case?
Sadly, yes. Illegal organisations are making money from smuggling, so they perfect their methods. Drug trafficking is among the most dangerous crimes detected on the border. In 2010, seventy one attempts were detected, with 948kg of drugs and psychotropic substances confiscated. Tobacco is another ‘popular’ product for smuggling, with precious metals and goods made from these also prevalent. Smuggling of foreign currency, computers, mobile phones, perfumery, cosmetics, footwear and clothes is also profitable, with criminals bringing these products into Belarus without paying customs duties.
Even customs officials are surprised by the forms which smuggling can take. For example, at Benyakoni border checkpoint, they arrested a man travelling from Lithuania who had hidden over 22kg of African Bush in airbags of his car. Vitebsk customs officials once found a batch of eight million cigarettes concealed in a railway carriage, placed in trays and covered in a layer of packaged peat. Grodno Regional Customs Service, in turn, confiscated clothes worth over $1m, being imported as ‘steel piping’. I could go on and on with tales of criminal invention.
The country’s safety — not only economic — depends on the attentiveness and professionalism of our customs offices. How will the directive ‘On Developing Entrepreneurial Initiative and Stimulating Business Activity in the Republic of Belarus’ influence the State Customs Committee’s work? It envisages the simplification of administrative-control procedures...
Our partner relations with business have been developing and becoming more liberalised for some time: the past five years. This directive should allow us to strengthen the process. Companies are being informed countrywide of the major avenues of the customs service’s planned development until 2015, with various viewpoints considered. Our personnel are visiting each region, meeting all those keen on aiding the process, listing to their ideas. We aim to eliminate excessive administrative barriers in the customs service’s work, while forming partner relations with entrepreneurial structures. This should result in more comfortable and competitive conditions for business in Belarus.
Of course, some criminal groups will use the new legislation as a chance for infringement so some adjustments are likely; criminals are ever changing their strategies so we must do the same. The Customs Service aims to react to new threats and challenges at the border in good time.