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HCMC e-customs still not ready despite 3-year trial   2008-10-18 - Viet Nam News

The HCM City Customs Department reported modest initial results after a three year trial period starting in October 2005 for electronic customs (e-customs) clearance procedures.

The E-Customs Department’s operations have yet to be fully computerised, which complicates the application of the e-supervision for goods clearance.

The new service allows businesses to file applications and track customs clearance progress online. The businesses only need to access a website, fill in forms with the customs offices online instead of on paper and wait for the clearance of their goods.

Much like Hai Phong in the north, the test run of the e-customs declaration and clearance system failed to achieve its planned targets, said Dang Hanh Thu, deputy head of the Viet Nam General Department of Customs.

According to customs statistics, the number of enterprises using this new model in customs procedures is negligible. Only 180 enterprises in HCM City officially participated, accounting for just 1 per cent of the total number of declarations.

The e-customs clearance identified several shortcomings, said Nguyen Hoang Hoa, deputy director of the Sai Gon Industrial Corporation.

One of the project’s biggest shortcomings stemmed from the e-customs website’s limited bandwidth, causing information and valuable work and time to be lost.

Another obstacle is that the current model of e-customs has yet to be connected to trade organisations, state agencies including the State treasury, banks, the Department of Planning and Investment, tax offices or relevant service organisations. This has forced businesses to go back and forth among relevant offices to complete various procedures.

Furthermore, after fulfilling customs declaration online procedures, businesses still have to bring their printed documents to customs agencies for re-inspection, wasting company time and money.

Do Huu Toan, deputy head of the city’s E-Customs Department admitted the software for customs clearance procedures was inadequate and failed to account for all the problems arising during customs clearance.

The E-Customs Department’s operations have yet to be fully computerised, which complicates the application of the e-supervision for goods clearance.

Moreover, the system is not an automatic process as it still requires both customs offices and enterprises’ involvement in manual handling.

The city’s customs department has submitted a new e-customs plan for the next few years that is hoped to boost efficacy to the General Department of Customs.

The plan focuses on improving the declaration software, building a customs information infrastructure, improving dialogue between the customs offices and businesses and providing more assistance for importers and exporters.

Also, officials should expand various electronic customs clearance services, including e-database provisions, warehousing, and e-confirmation between customs offices and businesses.

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