In the era of globalization: defined to mean the movement of people, goods, capital and ideas due to increased economic integration which in turn is propelled by increased trade and investment, the ambition to generate income and hence wealth would be realized irrespective of national boundary. This global movement, communications and transportation networks have not been confined to legitimate entities that required and increased the role and responsibility of Customs Administration.
The following confirm the above statement:
"The last twenty years has seen a marked acceleration in the trend towards 'Globalization' Driven by the increasing ease and availability of worldwide travel, the ongoing revolution in information technology and the creation and expansion of worldwide communications and financial networks, the world has become increasingly distance-less and border-less: in effect, a smaller place.
Unfortunately, however, the benefits arising from the opening of the global
Communications and transportation networks have not been confined to legitimate entities. Globalization has also increased the scope and reach of other actors, among them terrorist groups and criminal networks. It has provided the means for terror groups to operate within a global context, to the extent that global terrorism has now become the biggest challenge to the globalization trend."(CCES, International Supply Change Management, 47)
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From the above-cited statement, observation can be clearly that although globalization and the global integration of trade have influenced positively, the opportunities for terrorist activity that has significant negative impact have also increased. This made the role and responsibility of contemporary Customs so challenging in discharging its role of balancing border control and trade facilitation.
Particularly the incident of September 11, 2001 has fuelled to the sophistication of Customs administration. This has added challenge to the Customs officials of the day to their responsibility to ensure that the right amount of duties were collected and that would-be smugglers were brought to account.
For Customs to operate efficiently in such environment, it would be inevitable to design convenient system and administrative framework based upon the World Customs Organization's (WCO) Framework of Standards and international best practices.
Accordingly, as newly promoted to the post of Chief Customs Officer in charge of Alpha International Airport, processing both passenger and freight the report submitted should encompass roles and responsibilities of contemporary Customs.
"Customs administrations around the world are responsible for implementing a broad range of government policies in areas as diverse as border security, revenue collection, trade compliance and facilitation, protection of society, cultural heritage, intellectual property, collection of trade data and environmental protection.
The underlying principles governing the effective management of such responsibilities are no different from those applying to any other form of management. The uniqueness of Customs management stems from the context in which the various management responsibilities are performed, including the regulatory and commercial environment in which Customs operates".(CCES, Customs Management Theory & Practice PG, 2)
The above statement reminds the unique features attributed to Customs administration that modern customs system is mandated to encompass.
Functions and responsibilities of Customs emanate from the definitions. Accordingly, the World Customs Organization (WCO) formally defines Customs as:
'â€¦the government service which is responsible for the administration of Customs law and the collection of import and export duties and taxes and which also has responsibility for the application of other laws and regulations relating, inter alia, to the importation, transit and exportation of goods.'(WCO)
Words/phrases in the definition of Customs cited above reflect various roles and responsibilities of contemporary Customs. Accordingly, the phrase 'â€¦administration of Customs law' is mainly concerned with and entry to and exit from a country fulfilling appropriate procedures and obligations stipulated within respective Customs law. The phrase'â€¦responsibility for the application of other laws and regulations', encompass the responsibility of customs administration tend to carry out border control functions on behalf of other agencies. Regarding this function it is stated "â€¦these activities are likely to be under taken on behalf of and /or in conjunction with immigration, quarantine and health authorities, border or economic police, agriculture and environmental agencies and many others."(CCES, ISCM)
The role of customs represents government's responsibility to control and regulate movement of goods and people entering to, exiting from and transiting within borders of countries around the world. The control aspect refers to illegal trafficking of goods and people crossing borders by smugglers. Smugglers use different schemes to traffic illegal goods including bribing Customs staffs. For this very reason it is important, to be conversant with Customs regulations and procedures that can impact the international traffic of goods and people. Accordingly, Customs staffs at Alpha International Airport are required to abide Customs regulations and procedures in order to provide standardized appropriate services for passengers using the airport and cargo traffic.
Always on Time
Marked to Standard
It is recognized "Customs administrations around the world have important powers that are unique amongst government agencies, the authority to inspect all cargo imported and exported from a country. With this power, usually come the power to refuse entry of goods to their country and additionally the power to facilitate or impede entry.
Customs is also the agency in government to which importers and exporters provide information about their cargoes. They can also mandate the form in which that information is provided and the timing of the provision of that information". (CCES, ISCM,)
Currently, Customs administrations have taken on an increasingly international role due to significant increase in the volume and the pace of the international movement of people, cargo and even information.
Confirming this trend it is stated:
"As Adherence to the trade and border compliance requirements of international treaties and other bilateral and multilateral agreements frequently require the exchange of information between different Customs administrations or between Customs and traders. To achieve this, Customs must establish and maintain effective agreements and partnerships with other Customs administrations and with relevant areas of industry.
Finally, there is both a Government requirement and a public expectation that Customs procedures will provide high levels of border protection, but that this will be achieved in an environment that is conducive to the facilitation of legitimate trade. Although the core functions of Customs may have remained much the same, key
Objectives and the emphasis placed upon those objectives have changed for many administrations. So the Customs administrations of today find themselves operating in an environment of increasing complexity and faced with strong demands that they adapt their organizations, structures, and methods of operation to effectively fulfill their role and responsibilities and to efficiently meet the evolving requirements of industry, community and government". (CCES, Customs Management Theory & Practice PG, 9)
To realize these responsibilities and exercise powers, contemporary Customs rely on the WCO Framework of standards and the Revised kyoto Convention. Therefore, reform to be made at Alpha International Airport is required to take into account relevant provisions of these Frameworks and relevant Convention provisions to realize the ultimate purpose of balancing regulatory compliance and facilitation.
Customs Organizations and Structures
Customs, as government policy implementing agency in matters relating to international movement of goods and people across borders rely upon Framework of Standards developed by international organizations.
The following confirms this:
"In an environment of increasing globalization of trade, there is a heavy reliance upon Customs organizations to identify and implement government policies that will assist with the facilitation of legitimate trade whilst maintaining appropriate levels of border control and security. To achieve this, Customs administrations must adopt processes and procedures that are both compatible with industry practice and based upon internationally accepted rules and procedures. These rules and procedures need to be both relatively noncomplex and be compatible between nations and between regions". (CCES, Customs Management Theory & Practice PG, 12)
There are a number of international organizations working directly or indirectly with Customs administrations to achieve the simplification and harmonization of Customs (and related agency) rules and procedures. These include the World Trade Organization (WTO), and most importantly, the World Customs Organization (WCO).
The WTO deals with the rules of trade between nations at a global or near global level that are essential contracts, binding governments to keep their trade policies within agreed limits.
The WTO agreements form the basis of many trade related procedures and are often established or implemented through other international or regional bodies.
The WTO agreements hold to the following basic principles upon which Alpha International Airport Customs Administrations should strive to improve Customs clearance Procedures. The basic principles are:
Facilitation: While ensuring proper enforcement of Customs law and regulations,
Accountability: Customs Administrations should be accountable for their actions through a transparent and accessible process of administrative and/or judicial review
Consistency: Customs law, regulations, administrative guidelines and procedures should be applied in a uniform m manner within each economy
Transparency: Customs law, regulations, administrative guidelines and procedures should be publicly available in a prompt and easily accessible manner
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Simplification: Customs law, regulations, administrative guidelines and procedures should be simplified to the greatest extent possible so that Customs clearance can proceed without undue burdens.
The basic principles cited above are similar to and certainly compatible with the agreement most influencing contemporary Customs activity, The Revised Kyoto Convention (the revised International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures).
"The Revised Kyoto Convention includes guidelines and standards designed to help implementing countries and administrations introduce procedures which will support the facilitation of legitimate trade whilst meeting border and related control responsibilities. The Convention provides for these procedures to be implemented at a pace and in a manner appropriate to the adopting administration. It is the blueprint for much of the activity undertaken by the body primarily driving Customs reform and modernization worldwide - the World Customs Organization''. (CCES, Customs Management Theory & Practice PG, 12)
From the above it can be clearly observed modern Customs administrations are required to adopt their overall system with guidelines and standards developed by relevant international organizations in order to be in a position to support legitimate trade and practice appropriate border control. Thus, Alpha International Airport Customs Administrations is required to adhere to these guidelines.
World Customs Organization (WCO)
Customs reform and modernization is primarily driven by the World Customs Organization (WCO).
The WCO describes itself as:
an independent intergovernmental body whose mission is to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of Customs administrations. It is the competent global intergovernmental organization in Customs matters.
To fulfill this mission, the WCO:
establishes, maintains, supports and promotes international instruments for the harmonization and uniform application of simplified and effective Customs systems and procedures governing the movement of commodities, people and conveyances across Customs frontiers,
reinforces Members' efforts to secure compliance with their legislation, by endeavoring to maximize the level of effectiveness of Members' cooperation with each other and with international organizations in order to combat Customs and other transnational offences,
Assists Members in their efforts to meet the challenges of the modern business environment and adapt to changing circumstances, by promoting communication and co-operation among Members and with other international organizations, and by fostering integrity, human resource development, transparency, improvements in the management and working methods of Customs administrations and the sharing of best practices.
This implies the Revised Kyoto Convention is intended to promote the achievement of a highly facilitative international travel and trading environment while maintaining appropriate levels of regulatory control across all member administrations, thus mirroring the objectives of the WCO and of any modern and efficient Customs
The other point to be considered is the degree and level of autonomy Customs entrusted to deliver its responsibility in an efficient manner. Allowing autonomy tend to increase the efficiency of the revenue
To justify the relevance of autonomy the International Monetary Fund stated:
"The civil services of most of the developing world are characterized by an unsatisfactory level of development of human resources and inadequate resources. Systems theoretically based on competence and experience as criteria for hiring and promotion end up in practice being driven by political needs. In such a context, continuity of tenure becomes more a means of protecting the person from being fired after a change in government than an essential ingredient of a professional civil service. Furthermore, hiring practices that are part of the political patronage system imply that, most of the time, the main remuneration of employees arises from their ability to exploit their position within the administration for personal benefit. There are few places in the public sector where there are greater opportunities for this than in Customs administrations.
All this leads to a civil service that is generally perceived as incompetent, inefficient, and corrupt. This, combined with severe budgetary restrictions, often leads to an erosion of the compensation system whereby civil servants' salaries are allowed to deteriorate, until they reach levels that are just too low to recruit and retain skilled, competent, and honest people. In this environment, revenue administrations simply cannot be effective. This is one of the main reasons why the idea of the separation of revenue administrations from the civil service has gained momentum". (Patricio Castro & James T Walsh 2003).
The quotation from the IMF attests for Customs liberalization for modernization and efficiency.
Other factors of consideration in changing Customs administration towards modernization with ambition to efficiency include:
Cooperation and coordination with other agencies,
Comply with International Conventions and Agreements, mainly;
Multilateral agreements, binding agreements between several states and/or international organizations, and are generally open to signature on a global basis.
Plurilateral agreements, binding agreements between several states and/or international organizations, which are generally restricted to signatories from a particular region.
Bilateral agreements, binding agreements between two states, a state and an international organization, or two international organizations.
Strategic Management in Customs
Customs reform and modernization should be managed strategically in order to achieve the intended goal of trade facilitation and control.
Strategic Management has been described as: "The process of identifying, choosing and implementing activities that will enhance the long-term performance of an organization by setting direction, and by creating ongoing compatibility between the internal skills and resources of the organization, and the changing external environment in which it operates".( Viljoen & Dann: planning and implementing successful corporate strategies, 2000)
From the above description, a 'management strategy' may be described as a high-level plan addressing the priorities of the organization. So when we talk of 'strategic planning', we are referring to a high-level strategy or plan; something that extends across the agency or organization - perhaps across all of government.
This high-level plan is often incorporated into a 'framework' which includes consideration of:
service delivery (what do you need to do)
resource allocation (what inputs are required to deliver this service)
performance Management (how efficiently are you delivering the service)
The reform and modernization of Alpha International Airport Customs has to take into account the principles and base on the strategic plan of the organization and prepare work area plan that incorporates detailed action plan with required budget.
The work area plan prepared encompasses mainly the scope, timeframe, (12-month), and appropriate resources required for implementation of the intended change endeavor.
The important factor in Customs environment is the issue of integrity. Alpha International Airport Customs to demonstrate high levels of responsibility, probity and accountability.