Integrity pilot project in Serbia gains momentum

08 εδΈ€ζœˆ 2010

Integrity pilot project in Serbia gains momentum

Belgrade, 19-21 October 2010

In 2008, the WCO Integrity Sub-Committee (ISC) highlighted the need for concrete action in the fight against corruption and suggested running integrity pilot projects in all WCO regions. Serbian Customs (CAS) expressed a keen interest and commitment to engage in such a project.

In February 2010, possible pilot areas were identified during a workshop facilitated by the WCO at which experts from a further five Customs administrations presented their specific integrity programmes during an experience and best practices sharing session. That session helped CAS identify the measures/initiatives it wished to pilot. It chose to further develop one particular initiative with WCO support, namely a Strategic Risk Assessment (SRA) aimed at more effectively identifying areas of work/activities especially vulnerable to corruption.

The WCO subsequently contacted the United Kingdom’s HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), given its wealth of experience in this domain. HMRC provided an internal affairs expert to support his Serbian counterparts in this innovative endeavour.

From 19 to 21 October 2010, the WCO and HMRC experts worked together with Serbian Customs’ Internal Affairs Unit during a lively workshop aimed at sharing experiences, reaching practical solutions and drafting working material to drive the pilot project forward. This assistance was financed through the Eurocustoms Fund. HMRC best practices were presented and discussed on day one. A draft outline for a business case on the development and elements of a Strategic Risk Assessment (SRA) was drawn up. On day two, participants split into three smaller groups to draft a series of questions for inclusion in the actual SRA questionnaire. All the groups then came together in a plenary session to share the outcomes of their discussions. An initial draft of a corruption SRA questionnaire was produced based on the results of this work. On day three, the WCO and HMRC experts met with the Deputy Director General of CAS to present the findings and seek further support for the pilot project implementation from senior management. The experts and the Internal Affairs Unit drafted a roadmap for the project, laying down specific activities, the relevant units and deadlines for launching the SRA exercise.

The WCO and CAS trust that this new tool to be piloted will more accurately pinpoint the Administration’s areas of work/activities most vulnerable to corruption and boost efforts by the Administration as whole to assess and reduce risks in these different areas. In the longer term, it is hoped that the integrity pilot project in Serbia will serve as an example for other WCO Members in the region and beyond. The processes will be documented, with regular progress reports being presented to Members during ISC sessions.