Survey released at conference reveals annoyance among business at having to pay extra "fees" to have their customs paperwork cleared in a timely manner.
Thirty six per cent of the 3,123 enterprises polled in a recent survey said that if they do not pay extra “fees” to customs officials they may face discriminatory treatment, while 28 per cent accept they must pay additional fees to receive good service.
The figures were revealed by Mr. Dau Anh Tuan, Head of the Legal Department at the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), at a conference releasing the results of the survey on the level of satisfaction among enterprises on administrative procedures in the customs field this year.
The survey was conducted by Vietnam Customs and VCCI in cooperation with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) from the beginning of April to the end of June. It surveyed 3,123 enterprises in all economic sectors. Up to 35 per cent of respondents refused to answer questions regarding payments of additional fees to customs officers as they were concerned about the survey’s confidentiality, according to Mr. Nguyen Thanh Binh from USAID.
In 2012, 57 per cent of enterprises said they paid additional fees to customs officials and 49 per cent did likewise in 2013, Mr. Tuan said. There was no similar survey conducted in 2014. If the results of survey can be viewed as a measure of the level of integrity among customs officials, it appears there has been some improvement in recent times.
In areas of the country recording the lowest rate of enterprises paying additional fees to custom officers, 8 per cent were required to do so, while areas with the highest rates see 80 per cent of enterprises doing so. The report, however, did not specify where these areas are. According to separate interviews with experts, the rate is especially higher in areas with large number of goods needing customs clearance.
Businesses pay extra fees to customs officials because they are afraid of receiving discriminatory treatment, including prolonged procedures and requests for additional information or documents. Those who don’t pay are met with a surly and unhelpful attitude by customs officials.
Enterprises also gave their assessment of customs legislation and policies over recent years in the survey. Ninety-four per cent said that changes to policy and legislation were positive, while 89 per cent expressed their satisfaction in accessing information on customs’ procedures through the Vietnam Customs portal.
One fisheries enterprise said it has to make contact with six different ministries and agencies to complete customs clearance on its goods, Mr. Nguyen Hoai Nam, Deputy Secretary General of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), told the conference. It’s common for local authorities to seek extra fees, to the annoyance of seafood export-import enterprises.
Reform of administrative procedures in general and in customs in particular has seen positive movements recently, with State officials providing more of a public service. The reform in customs’ administrative procedure has received support from the business community. Stronger collaboration is required, however, between related ministries and agencies so that the results of the reform efforts meet the hopes of businesses.