“A pathway to modern customs”

June 25, 2015

Kyiv, June 2015. How to kick-start the Customs Reform process in the State Fiscal Service of Ukraine (SCS)? It starts with suggestions and priorities Brian Richard from EUAMs Strategic Border Guard & Customs Advisory Unit recently put together for the Ukrainian authorities. He sees the document as a “living and real working document on how the SCS could go ahead with a possible reform.” The document is based on the Customs Blueprint principles – a pathway to modern customs. Brian Richard answers some questions around customs reforms.

Question: Why is the reform of the Customs Administration important for Ukraine?

Brian Richard: As a key border agency, the Customs Administration has to address significant challenges. It has a critical role in revenue collection, trade facilitation, citizen protection and national security. Only a modern customs administration can contribute to enhance national competitiveness and integration in international markets, which is of vital important for the business community. With the growth of international trade and new global challenges such as organized crime or terrorism, the role of the Customs Administration is also to maintain a permanent equilibrium between its major tasks: protection of society and revenue collection.

Q: What kind of role EUAM advisors play in this reform process?

Brian: It is clear that we can just offer strategic advice to our Ukrainian counterparts. The reform proposal for the period of five years we submitted and will discuss with our Ukrainian counterparts is the very first step. It is up to them to decide what they do with our suggestions and how they wish the reform document to be tailored entirely to their needs.

Q: What are some of the 11 strategic priorities you highlighted in the document?

Brian: We focused on recommendations on institutional development, management, working procedures, standards, HR and training, equipment and infrastructure, IT, but also on the enhanced cooperation with other border management agencies. Just to give you an example in terms of equipment: Is the right equipment in place? Should there be scanners at each of the border check-points and are they adequate for a modern customs administration or is there a need for any update? With more current equipment, the revenue collection could be raised, the trade of illicit and prohibited goods avoided and cross-border crimes more effectively fought against.

Q: Why are Customs important for the security of Ukraine?

Brian: There is this misperception in the public that Customs are often seen primarily as revenue collectors. We believe that Customs authorities in fact are a key actor in the security sector as they could prevent threats to the security of the state, notably by securing the Ukrainian economy and supply chain, protecting the health of the people and contributing to the state’s efforts in combatting money laundering and terrorist  financing.

Q: What are the next steps?

Brian: On Friday, 26 June, EUAM organizes a panel discussion with stakeholders around the customs reforms. Our suggestions are ‘fruit for thought’ which can determine the strategic direction of the State Fiscal Service. We suggest our Ukrainian counterparts to review the adopted strategies twice a year and prepare an action plan which defines more concrete measures and activities.

Q: What is the timeframe to implement the reforms?

Brian: Implementation of reforms normally takes time as it is a long process. If everything goes on track and without any major obstacles it should be possible within 3 to 5 years.