Customs' efforts in preserving integrity explained at the International Anti-Corruption Conference in Bangkok
Thailand, 10 November 2010
At the invitation of the Chair of Transparency International, Secretary General Mikuriya attended the 14th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) in Bangkok, Thailand on 10 November to speak about Customs' efforts in fighting corruption and preserving integrity.
After the opening of the Conference by Thailand's Prime Minister, the 1st plenary panel on peace and security tackled the issue of integrity especially in the environment where peace and security is compromised by post-conflict situations, rampant organized crime, and weak governance.
During the panel discussion the Secretary General explained the three remedies contained in the revised WCO Arusha Declaration: firstly, a moderate regulatory arrangement, including reductions in excessively high tariffs and restraining wide-spread exemptions; secondly, the simplification of procedures using information technology to gain efficiency and reduce opportunities for corruption; and thirdly, adequate human resource management, including the introduction of decent working condition, merit-based recruitment and performance-based promotion and disciplinary measures. He suggested that inefficiency is the cause of corruption rather than the other way round. He also emphasized the need to tackle integrity as part of a comprehensive Customs reform programme rather than taking a piece-meal approach. This requires political will and leadership by top management, and Business and civil society could help in this respect.
To illustrate the combination of efficiency gains by computerization and strengthened human resource management by performance measurement, the Secretary General mentioned the recent Cameroon experience, which resulted in reduced corruption and increased revenue. Cameroon Customs introduced an automated system in 2007 to streamline procedures and then applied performance measurement of line officers by analyzing records in the automated system in 2010 to reward officers with good performance records with potential promotion while removing officers who were found cheating.
The Secretary General also underlined the importance of Customs-business partnerships as business should increase its compliance in the same manner as Customs improves integrity. In the context of supply chain security, Customs should identify traders with good compliance records and work with them in partnership to reduce security risks and in turn provide them with facilitation benefits. The audience appreciated the panel discussion which provided useful information to be shared among stakeholders.
Secretary General Mikuriya took the opportunity to visit Director General Prasong of Thai Customs who took over last month to discuss ways to strengthen regional cooperation in the WCO Asia/Pacific region under vice chairmanship of Thailand. He also visited former Director General Somchai to thank him for his support. He then visited the ROCB for Asia/Pacific to appreciate their work on capacity building assistance.