Columbus Phase 3 support mission to Belarus

29 May 2012

Columbus Phase 3 support mission to Belarus

7-16 May 2012

The State Customs Committee (SCC) of the Republic of Belarus hosted the 3rd WCO Columbus Programme Phase 3 progress evaluation ever from 7 to 16 May 2012. The Phase 3 evaluation was carried out by an expert from the WCO Secretariat, an expert on secondment from Finnish Customs and supported by the Japanese Customs Cooperation Fund.

Following the Phase 3 methodology endorsed by the Capacity Building Committee, before the mission the SCC had carried out a self-assessment exercise. This documentation was assessed and aided preparations of the schedule and agenda of the evaluation.

The May 2012 WCO Phase 3 progress evaluation looked again at holistic organizational issues using as references the WCO Diagnostic Framework and building blocks identified in the “Customs in the 21st Century” policy statement. The WCO experts found several examples of progress since the SCC Phase 1 diagnostic in June 2007.

Examples of achievements since the 2007 WCO diagnostic included advances in the management of trade information, clearer legislative controls, increased information technology (IT) efficiencies, infrastructure improvements at many Customs facilities, use of technological equipment and establishing their own Institute for Advanced Customs Training.

As part of the in-country assessment, the WCO experts met with many stakeholders involved in Customs border management – both from within Customs as well as from the Private Sector and other external stakeholders. During meetings with private sector stakeholders, for example, feedback included appreciation for better trade facilitation and satisfaction being involved early in policy and legislation development.

During the 3rd Phase of the WCO Columbus Programme, administrations in co-operation with WCO experts, aim to assess the results of their reform and modernization efforts undertaken since the WCO diagnostic mission in the 1st Phase. Phase 3 also assesses the strategic planning and implementation phase, the so-called 2nd Phase of the Columbus Programme. Phase 3, referred to as “Monitoring and Evaluation”, offers an opportunity to assess the reform progress and recommend adjustments to the ongoing modernization activities. It is in no way the end of the modernization process but rather an opportunity to pause and reflect on the progress achieved, as well as to better define the future.