The globalisation of trade, marked by increased trade flows and economic openness, is henceforth a reality that is binding on States. To cope with major changes induced by the dynamics of globalisation, the Ministry of Finance has initiated a process of reform and modernisation of structures, resources and management practices in the customs domain. For some years now, several developments have marked this evolution of the customs administration towards a modern administration better armed to respond to contemporary issues in terms of revenue mobilisation, facilitation and control of external trade.
Spurred by the Government, the progress recorded in terms of reforms and the modernisation of Customs has manifested itself in various domains.
1. The adoption of a strategic plan for the reform and the modernisation of the customs administration.
This is actually the fruit of a collective reflection which begun some years earlier, the general report of the committee to reform the customs administration was adopted in 2003. The strategic plan resulting from this document is a summary analysis of all the work carried out on the subject of customs reform.
2. The deployment of the ASYCUDA computer system
In the area of services and computer systems, the customs administration has ensured the successful deployment of the ASYCUDA computer application to replace the old system PAGODE. Put in place in the Littoral customs sector since 1st January 2007, ASYCUDA is a completely automated clearance system treating all customs operations. The installation of the pilot sites began in the customs offices of Youpw├®, Yaound├® Nsimalen, Bota, Cape Limboh, Ngaoundere-Train station, Garoua, Maroua and Gaschiga, all in a bid to favour the networking of the system throughout the entire customs territory.
3. The simplification of procedures and the rationalisation of controls
With regards to controls after removal, and to respond to the objections raised by economic operators concerning the duration of inspection teams as well as the conditions of exercise of recourse action, the Ministry of Finance issued Circular No. 010 which prescribes a duration period limited to 03 months in the company, and the obligation to close the control operations by the elaboration of a report.
4. The putting into function of the scanner device
Pursuant of the recommendations of the reform of the Customs Administration, and following consultations with SGS, the DAP and the Private Sector, the Customs department has just integrated the scanner in the clearance procedure. Scanner control comes naturally to replace the physical control, which permits to optimum use of the customs resources thus liberated from the task of physical inspection, thereby concentrating on other more profitable tasks at the Customs.
5. The combined management of the scanner with the risk analysis methods
In order to get the best out of it, the use of the scanner was associated with the methods and techniques of risk management.
6. The effective application of the transaction value
Cameroon, which is a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) since 1995, took the decision to apply the WTO Agreement on Customs Valuation since 1st July 2001. The transposition of this Agreement in the national normative architecture was materialised through Law No. 2001/008 of 03 June 2001; this mechanism was supplemented by Ministerial Instruction No. 0246/MINEFI/DD.
7. The furthering of the policy of performance indicators.
At the heart of governance tools, the policy of performance indicators has been launched at the moment in Douala which contributes almost 90% to State revenue. 30 indicators are produced monthly in 11 offices in Douala. These indicators which follow the customs activity permit to put into economic perspective the changes in parameters relating to the activity of the offices.
8. Resorting to the approach of technological modernisation.
Customs is taking an active part in the implementation of the electronic one-stop shop in view of the increasing dematerialisation of procedures. As a key measure of this modernisation approach, the technologies of GPS or global positioning satellite have been developed to facilitate and monitor transit operations. Since the signing, on the 19th March 2009, of the Ministerial instruction introducing this device, the movement of bonded goods in national customs territory has been subject to the monitoring of the transport means and their cargo by a geo-location system using technology like the Global Positioning System (GPS).
9. Strengthening of customs tools to support the national economy
The action of the finance department in this regard is to ensure the effective application of economic customs regimes geared towards enhancing the export capacity of domestic enterprises.
10. Improved revenue collection system at land borders and at the offices of the hinterland.
Methods and operational instruments are underlying this ambition. A system of interregional conferences brought together by three sectors according to their customs geographical contiguity in use. The measures in this framework are essentially intended to raise and harmonise the tax levels practised in homogeneous geographic areas in terms of the taxable material.
11. Opening a closer dialogue with those who pay the revenue
The major initiative in this area is the creation of the customs / business Forum. Launched since 10 March 2009, the customs / business Forum is a platform of dialogue, exchange and consultation, which aims at identifying and highlighting synergies between the government and the private sector. It is a framework of mutual information, oriented towards making quick decisions, so that economic operators make the most of the economic and procedural facilities in force or to be implemented.
12. Promoting ethics and governance within the Customs Administration
In relation with Government guidelines on the subject, and following the recommendations of the revised Arusha Convention, the Ministry of Finance has placed the promotion of ethical principles at the centre of its customs services. In order to take this option, a committee of governance ethics was created within the customs administration.
13. The signing of performance contracts
For some years now, the Customs Administration is committed to promoting a quality approach based on the achievement and assessment of results. To address issues related to both trade facilitation and the fight against fraud, monthly performance contracts repartitioned into objectives assigned to visiting inspectors in charge of the clearance of goods on the basis of specific and increasing indicators were introduced. Given the real success recorded, the extension of performance contracts to economic operators is envisaged in the very near future. Negotiations are underway in this direction with a list of partners already identified.
The policy of the Ministry of Finance on customs duties reflects a bias in favour of structural reforms that are changing the face of the Customs Administration internally and externally.