02 February 2012



As Winston Churchill used to say, "he who fails to plan is planning to fail". This is particularly true when it comes to planning a strategy – planning for a long term. Hence – the renewed emphasis of the WCO as well as its Members on giving the planning the prominent place it deserves in the overall Customs modernisation agenda.

One of such administrations where this idea is fully embraced and the value added by the strategic planning is well understood is the Customs Administration of Kazakhstan, where vigorous efforts are underway to put the planning into perspective. To sustain this momentum, Kazakhstan hosted a national Workshop on Strategic Planning in Astana, from 23 to 27 January 2012. The Workshop was organised jointly with the OSCE and facilitated by a team of WCO experts.

The main objective of the mission was to draft a new Strategic Plan for the next five-year period, while taking due account of the WCO most essential instruments, as well as modern strategic planning methods. Participants reviewed the progress made since the Diagnostic study had been conducted in Kazakhstan in 2007, as well as the SAFE FoS and the strategic priorities of Customs in the 21st Century.

The Workshop created a platform for interaction and a frank dialogue between Customs and many different stakeholders of Customs modernisation – other government agencies, business community, donor organisations, and consultancies working for the Kazakhstan Customs. This set the tone of the seminar making it a highly relevant exercise that focused on real, most urgent challenges, and looked for realistic and pragmatic solutions. There were no barriers to active interaction between everyone involved in the seminar as the entire event was held in Russian – one of the languages actively used in Kazakhstan.

At the end of the Workshop the first draft of the new Strategic Plan for 2013-2017 saw the light of day. What’s more, the experts who attended the event understood that they had a very important role to play in the strategic planning, which is neither a preserve of full-time project managers, nor a purely theoretical process, but a powerful instrument to make change happen.