GLOBAL FORUM V
Trade and Customs Partnership to Fight against
Corruption and Safe guarding Integrity
BY Eugene TORERO
VICE CHAIR, WCO ESA REGION
Wold Customs Organisation
East and Southern Africa Region
The Customs world has to accept that the
incentives and opportunities exist in all revenue-
collecting agencies to engage in corrupt practices.
Based on this premise, every Customs
administration should attempt to provide a
framework for legal and administrative
procedures that are necessary to detect, punish,
and reduce such undesirable behavior.
The trade community has a role to play in
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Building a system to promote integrity in
Building a system to promote integrity in customs
Putting in place measures to combat corruption;
On-going vigilance to ensure that the measures continue to
operate and that corrupt behavior is detected and dealt with.
Top Leadership commitment to address the problem and
acting as role models. This should go beyond mere
statements that corruption will not be tolerated to the actual
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Main elements to promote integrity in Customs
1. Clear legal, regulatory, and administrative framework for
2. simple, transparent procedures;
3. a professional customs administration;
4. performance standards;
5. code of conduct;
6. Effective internal audit systems with independence.
7. Whistle blowing programs
8. Business co-operation
9. Customs co-operation
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In support of these elements, there should also be an atmosphere that
encourages the following;
• Dialogue with the trade community,
•An independent, honest judicial system, and
•A press that is interested, able, and allowed to raise issues of
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1. Clear legal, regulatory, and
administrative framework for
From a customs administrators point of view, simple,
clear legislation creates the framework for the
development of systems and procedures that are
easily understood by both the trade community and
Laws and regulations related to Customs should be
easily accessible and understandable, and clear
criteria should guide administrative discretion in their
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Effective penalty system
A good penalty system should provide the administrator with the
ability to impose administrative penalties for minor offences.
This may include:
fines, for example, for broken seals on vehicles
transporting goods in-transit and presentation of
declarations with an unacceptable level errors.
Serious cases of fraud, including the bribing of
revenue officials, should result in more serious actions,
including criminal prosecution
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Provide an independent appeal mechanism
Every customs law, no matter how well written, is
capable of being interpreted differently.
In order to preserve the independence of the
officials and the integrity of the system, it is
important that taxpayers have the ability to
challenge decisions and be assured of a fair and
equitable hearing and that decisions are widely
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2. Simple, transparent procedures
It is the responsibility of the customs administrators
to put in place simple, easily understood systems
and procedures. The reasons for this approach are
– Firstly, it reduces the compliance costs for
the importers and exporters and,
– Secondly, it reduce: the opportunities for
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Simple, transparent procedures (cont’d)
To be effective and to reduce the opportunities for corruption,
Customs systems should be based on the following:
– one step process
– minimize the information and documentation requirement
– consistent interpretations,
– Computerization – may reduce customs interventions
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3. Professional customs administrations
The development of professional Customs
administrations is important, not only to improve
the effectiveness of these administrations but, at
the same time, to address issues of corruption.
The best way of ensuring fairness and neutrality
in the administration of the Customs
administration is to develop professional
administrations with clearly defined
responsibilities and accountability for
performance, including :
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Customs administration to perform effectively
require skilled, knowledgeable supervisors and
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Too often the senior officials in the administrations
change as governments change and individuals with
little or no knowledge of legislation, regulations, systems,
and procedures are put in charge of collecting the
In these circumstances, staff may perceive that they have
limited career opportunities in the organization, little, if
any, "loyalty" to the organization and, perhaps,
consequently be more open to corruption
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These are an essential component of well-run customs
administrations. This includes:
– a clear statement of goals and objectives;
– well documented operating procedures;
– supervision of day- to-day activities; and
– a regular review of the outputs of employees.
– Consideration of results of internal audits.
– feedback from importers and exporters, and
– views of employees in evaluating the
operations of an office.
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Compensation and working conditions
Customs administrators must be provided with sufficient
compensation to reduce the incentive to engage in corrupt
While civil service pay can never be at a level that will
discourage all corrupt behavior, compensation can be set at a
level that provides a good standard of Living and eliminates the
need to accept "facilitation fees".
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Appropriate working conditions
The provision of appropriate working conditions is also
important. This includes:
1. proper' office space, equipment (e.&, telephones,
computers, and transportation), and supplies.
2. The administration should not have to rely on
importers, exporters, or their agents to provide any
facilities or equipment which could imply that a favor
is expected in return.
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Any regulatory agency is better able to carry out its
functions in an impartial manner if it remains at arms
length from those it is charged with regulating.
Revenue agencies are no different in this regard.
Accordingly, it is important that staff rotations take
place on a regular basis to reduce opportunities for
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4. Performance standards
Customs administrations should put in place performance
standards that enable policy makers, management, and the
public to measure how well an administration is performing.
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• Firstly, it enables the policy makers including Ministers to hold
heads of administrations accountable, if agreed standards are
• Secondly it enables management to measure the performance of
offices and individuals and to identity potential problems.
• Thirdly, it makes very clear to the employees that there are
expectations and that their performance will be measured
against these expectations.
• Fourthly, the public is aware of what is expected and, therefore,
should be willing and encouraged to bring to the attention of
management cases where the standards have not been met.
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• Too often, the only performance standard established for the
administrations is the requirement to meet certain revenue
targets. This is not enough, particularly if corruption is a
• Performance standards, in Customs administrations, should
include the following:
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• In customs administrations, there should be clearly articulated
standards for the various functions that are performed.
• For importers, it is very important that they know the time that the
goods will be under customs control.
• By establishing service standards and making them known to staff and
to importers and exporters,
• An administration can establish monitoring mechanisms to identify
transactions, offices, and officers that do not meet the required
• Reports from the monitoring system may also help to identify areas that
should be investigated for potential corrupt practices.
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5. Code of conduct
• It is important that employees and importers and
exporters be aware of the conduct that is expected of
• By clearly articulating expectations, customs
administrators can hold employees accountable for
performance and take appropriate action.
• Many administrations publish a 'code of conduct"
with these expectations.
• For such a code to be effective; it must also include a
description of the disciplinary actions.
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6. Effective internal audit
While it is the overall responsibility of management
to monitor performance and to ensure that
operational policies are being followed and
performance standards are being met, this must be
supplemented by effective internal audit.
Internal audit activities should include:-
compliance with operational procedures—
Operational procedures should be clearly defined
and laid out in manuals or procedure guides.
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7. Whistle blowing program
The customs legislation should provide
for a reward to whistle blowers
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8. Business co-operation
The Business community has a role to play in
Sign a MOUs on facilitating trade as provided for
under Pillar 2 of SAFE,
Trade associations could help in capacity building
such as the accounting associations,
Business Associations could also develop integrity
codes of conduct,
Develop integrity advocacy programs.
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9. Regional perspective
Member administrations are at varying stages of
Majority of member administrations have;
Signed MOUs amongst themselves thus implementing Pillar
1 of SAFE – Examples: Joint Border controls, Information
sharing on advance cargo, joint integrity training programs;
Developed codes of conducts;
Established audit and investigation units
Embraced WCO trade facilitation instruments such as the
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9. Regional perspective (Cont’d)
In particular, the WCO ESA region has demonstrated its
commitment to promoting integrity through the NAIROBI
INTEGRITY RESOLUTION of 24th Feb. 2007.
In addition Member administrations AGREED to:
Develop a regional integrity model code of conduct;
Undertake peer reviews;
Harmonize risk management systems,
Embrace integrity development tools of the WCO;
Develop a regional pool of experts on integrity,
Promote customs to customs co-operation and where possible share
infrastructure such as NII.
Set up a C2B partnership week
The challenge is walking the talk!
Finally, there is no easy or quick solution to the issue of integrity
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Thank you for your attention
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