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17 Jul 2018

Lukashenko briefed about customs matters

MINSK, 17 July (BelTA) – Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko heard out a report of Chairman of the State Customs Committee Yuri Senko on 17 July. Top on the agenda of the meeting were budget revenues, foreign trade promotion, law enforcement and optimization of customs agencies, BelTA has learned.

The head of state asked about the contribution of the State Customs Committee to the budget revenues. “What do we get from the State Customs Committee and how things were last year and this year? As far as I know, we have a substantial increase in budget revenues. This is a number one priority,” the Belarusian leader noted.

“Question number two: the situation within customs agencies. What is the state of things there? You took charge in order to fix issues, which were many. You are a professional. I count on you to bring order to the committee. What about the law enforcement?” Alexander Lukashenko asked.

The president stated that there have been fewer corruption-related cases in customs agencies. “Probably, we have not fully eradicated it. However, things seem to have changed dramatically. I really hope so,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

The head of state spoke about optimization of the customs authorities. “Have we managed to achieve our goals? We planned some downsizing by means of merges and optimization. However, to be frank, there is not much room for downsizing there. It is an effective agency that brings money and we kept numbers small there. Even when we needed more personnel, we did not hire people relying on what we have,” the president noted.

According to the State Customs Committee, it transferred Br4.6 billion to the state budget in H1 2018, up by Br1.1 billion or 33.6% over the same period in 2017. The payments were equal to about $2.3 billion, up by $490.1 million or 27% over H1 2017. The budget revenues increased as international trade gained momentum and commodity flows intensified.

“There are two aspects to this situation. The first one is optimization of work done by the customs service in respect of business, which allowed us to handle a bigger number of operations due to process automation, different approaches and less paperwork, which is envisaged by the revised Customs Code. The second one is the increase in commodity transit via Belarus,” Yuri Senko said.

According to him, commodity transit via Belarus rose by 3 million tonnes this year. “This statistics is illustrative of the work of business. The increase does not come from enforcing more payments. It is attributed to bona fide business practices as businesses pay all due payments,” he noted.

Commenting on the situation within the customs service, Yuri Senko noted that it can be evaluated by analyzing the number of initiated disciplinary offences and criminal cases. He stated that no criminal cases were brought against the customs service personnel in 2018. At the same time, individual disciplinary offenses were reported and the necessary measures were taken.

“Among them is personnel reshuffle, optimization of various areas of activity. This was done to see and control what officials do, to respond to certain signals and to prevent corruption-related risks in the system in general,” Yuri Senko noted.

Yuri Senko told reporters how the customs service is gearing up for the 2nd European Games and other forthcoming international sports events in Belarus. As part of the preparations, construction works will be completed on the Urbany and Verkhny Terebezhov checkpoints on the Latvian and Ukrainian borders. The head of state has recently passed a corresponding decree.

Apart from that, the State Customs Committee has an opportunity to take part in various international technical aid projects. “By 2021 we will accomplish eight international technical aid projects estimated at the total of some €15 million, of which €3.5 million will be Belarus’ contribution. The money will be spent on improving cross-border customs infrastructure,” Yuri Senko said.

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