WCO visit to Bhutan in support of Customs modernization

09 octubre 2013
At the invitation of the Director of the Department of Revenue & Customs, Ministry of Finance of Bhutan, Mr. Choyzang Tashi, the Secretary General, Mr. Kunio Mikuriya, visited Thimphu and Paro from 7 to 9 October 2013.  He met Bhutan’s Prime Minister and other political, government and business leaders in support of Customs modernization.

During his meeting with the Secretary General, the Prime Minister, His Excellency Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay, expressed his vision of Customs acting as a facilitator rather than solely as a revenue collector in this competitive world.  This will require mutual trust between Customs and business.  He therefore supported his country's early accession to the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC) together with modernization of Revenue & Customs’ IT system to ensure connectivity at borders.  He also underlined the role played by Customs at borders in preventing the entry of hazardous goods and protecting biodiversity.  Human resource development is another focus of the Prime Minister and he welcomed the WCO’s assistance in developing a pool of local experts demonstrating professionalism and integrity, supported by the WCO Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB) Asia/Pacific.  Given Bhutan’s position as a land-locked country, he stressed the importance of regional cooperation and welcomed the WCO's efforts in building up the network of Customs experts in neighbouring countries within the region.  The Prime Minister shared the Secretary General’s view that good governance is strengthened when an administration’s employees take pride in serving their country, underpinned by a well-established career path and decent working conditions.  He also concurred that political leaders should rely on expert advice offered by implementing agencies before making policy decisions.

Secretary General Mikuriya also had a series of meetings with the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Economic Affairs and Secretaries of relevant ministries to discuss Customs reform as the basis for improving the business environment.  Members of Bhutan’s two-month-old government all supported accession to the RKC and the use of WCO tools for transparent and predictable border procedures.  The Secretary General also met the President of the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce & Industry to hear the concerns of business.  Both Customs and business agreed on the usefulness of and need for more dialogue to intensify cooperation between them.  Bhutan Customs also organized a meeting between senior managers from the Department of Revenue & Customs and the Secretary General.