Business expects positive changes at customs
In the second half of 2019, the Customs Index reached 3.39 points out of 5 possible. Therefore, the index has improved slightly compared to the previous period (3.24 points), but it still reflects the neutral assessment of the customs by the business.
The survey results show that in the second half of 2019 there were no significant changes in the experts’ estimates. Thus, 54% believe that corruption at customs authorities remains at the same level, and only 27% noticed a decrease in corruption (36% in the previous period). The number of respondents who are rather satisfied with the quality of services and the professionalism of customs officials has insignificantly declined to 44%. However, the percentage of dissatisfied people compared to the first half of the year also decreased, accounting for 24% of the respondents.
The experts assessed the work of the Single Window system more positively. Thus, 63% of respondents said they were more or less satisfied with the operation of the Single Window, and only 12% were dissatisfied with the use of the system.
Index improvements relate to the introduction of the e-cabinet for businesses with convenient reporting tools. Moreover, the business community noted that there was a rather painless and smooth transition of functions from the State Fiscal Service to the State Customs Service. Undoubtedly, much work remains to be done, since customs reform and the eradication of corruption is not an issue of one day, but we hope that the situation at customs will keep improving.
At the same time, it should be noted that the difficulties during the customs control, which the companies complained about at the beginning of the year, remained unchanged. Therefore, we would like to draw special attention of the State Customs Service to such problems as the imperfect system of passing veterinary, phytosanitary control and the burdensome control of goods in wooden containers. There was also no significant progress in reducing the volume of paper documents required for customs clearance. Businesses still have to provide paper documents, in addition to electronic ones, and that significantly delays the customs control process and makes the implementation of e-services senseless.
The increase in the business moods can be explained with the successful PR support of the reforms and strong positive business expectations. The year 2019 can be summed up with big reforms and legislative changes in the work of customs, but it is too early to talk about systemic changes. In fact, the changes have not yet been fully implemented. Thus, customs clearance is still predominantly operated in "manual mode" despite the ongoing digitalization. We hope it is a matter of time, not the will of the new customs.
We have a slight increase in the index, which, in my opinion, is due to the increased expectation of positive changes in customs. The customs were reloaded just at the end of last year, so only the next wave of survey will show the objective results. I hope that the index will be in the positive area, and the business will feel real changes for the better in its daily interaction with the customs authorities.
For the reference:
The European Business Association has been measuring the Customs index since 2010.
The study consists of three thematic blocks: corruption, quality of customs services, work of the Single Window. The index is measured twice a year. Mark 3 is considered neutral. The maximum score is 5 points.
There were 81 customs experts participating in the survey regarding the period of July-December 2019.