With the exponential increase in global trade and the changing dynamics of the international supply chain, e-commerce and the like have created new demands and perspectives on the role of Customs administrations.
Fiji Revenue and Customs Service chief executive officer Visvanath Das made this comments while opening the Private Sector Engagement Conference, a prelude to the 19th World Customs Organisation Asia/Pacific Regional Heads of Customs Administration Meeting at the Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa yesterday.
The theme for the one day conference is Border Management Solutions.
Mr Das said: “Whether we are maritime or landlocked countries ….we share the common desire and mandate by our Governments or shareholders to grow our economies or business in the most effective and efficient manner.
“Whilst government agencies such as Revenue and Customs, Bio Security, Health etc are responsible for revenues, security and protection from illicit activities together with defense of health, environment, we cannot minimise the importance of the necessity of facilitating free flow of goods, services, and people across borders.”
He said this meant being open to the world for business as well as opening access to the world adding to the force of the World Trade Organisation Trade Facilitation Agreement had only accelerated the need to rise up.
“With globalisation and trade liberalisation the world has only become smaller, thus, the challenge is about awareness and collaboration between relevant government agencies and private sector in raising the country’s competitiveness at the global stage – the competitiveness of the private sector indicates the competitiveness of a country’s economy.
“It is a shared responsibility rather than an individualistic one.
“While businesses seek to move goods faster in the supply chain at reduced costs, customs administrations are required to process increasing volumes of cargo with lesser reliance on physical intervention and with greater efficiency and speed.
“Without compromising on its security, revenue collection and enforcement responsibilities.
“In order to accomplish this, there is an increasing need for Customs administrations and businesses to collaborate with each other and with other stakeholders to ensure regulations, policies and programmes effectively respond to an ever changing environment.
“Of course, the sustainability of trade and resilience of our economies to counter economic, political and natural shocks will continue to be a reality as we navigate our way into the future.”
He said a dynamic partnership was essential to drive innovation and economic growth opportunities and at the same time created a more cost effective, efficient and responsive Customs administration.
Border Agencies Gear Up for the Future
Border agencies in Fiji were gearing themselves up for new technology in an effort to detect goods coming in and the faster clearance of goods and services.
This meant closer working between the FRCS and Biosecurity Authority of Fiji at all borders.
Biosecurity Authority of Fiji chief executive officer Hillary Kumwenda said this would also increase the compliance level that is currently being faced at the border.
“What we have been forecasting on is boarder modernisation, using the FRCS platform for bio-security which is what we want to integrate in our system today.
“It will bring out something different and we can learn to work together. I think with the integration of the technology this will add more value to that.
“So through that approach we are likely to see a lot of big improvements in the coming years.”
Mr Kumwenda said in terms of reaching that they have already done the processes and were trying to integrate with other processes with other boarder agencies.
He added that both organisations would not become one in the future as both had fixed duties to perform.
“Through this system it is going to promote the joint venture instead of duplicating and that is more reason why we are saying it is going to assist the private sector.”
As for buying online, Mr Kumwenda said this was a big challenge for border agencies and there was a need to move with the time.
“The trade and economic landscape is changing and we have to change with the times.”
He said one way could be the use of high-tech machines.”
“E-commerce has come to stay and we cannot say no as it is another business platform that is taking place.”
“We are trying to move with the way the world is moving but maintain the same kind of protection.”
Mr Kumwenda said detection has mainly been through the trade of pets as this has brought about the introduction of diseases.