'Functioning of modern-day Customs is too diverse'

Central Board of Indirect taxes and customs. (Photo by Wikipedia)

The functioning of modern-day Customs is too diverse and there is a need for a new approach towards combating terrorism, cross-border fraud, money- laundering, smuggling of narcotics, drugs, and antiques, among others, an official said on Monday.

Inaugurating the 29th Regional Contact Points (RCP) meeting of Asia Pacific Region of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) here, member (Customs) of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) Raj Kumar Barthwal said, "The functions of modern Customs are too diverse." Elaborating on it, he said the functions span from revenue collection, implementation of allied laws, interdiction of prohibited goods from entry or exit, protection of cultural heritage and intellectual property rights to implementation of Free Trade Agreements and Trade Facilitation Agreement.

He said globalization, increased foreign investments and better opportunities internationally push the nation`s Customs administration towards faster and simplified procedures without compromising on safety and security aspects.

Barthwal said that on assumption of India as the vice-chair for the Asia-Pacific,' we drew broad contours for a harmonized approach for Customs administration and put in place four strategic guiding principles.'

These principles were greater communication and connectivity within the region, harnessing of technological advancement, inclusive approach and consensus on core issues, he said.

The official further said, "We need to renew our efforts to ensure an environment to handle economic slowdown."

He said the Customs have been witnessing increasing risks associated with terrorism, smuggling, commercial frauds.

In this context, he said, non-intrusive inspection technology coupled with blockchain, artificial intelligence, and data analytics assumed significance in detecting illegal trade and ensuring an effective environment.

Barthwal said there was a need to develop innovative approaches to combat terrorism, cross-border fraud, illicit financing and money-laundering, smuggling of narcotics, drugs, antiques and cultural artefacts. Later, he told newsmen that WCO was the only intergovernmental international organization engaged in setting up and implementation of principles and standards for cross- border procedures and customs.

Speaking at the three-day meet, Takashi Sato of WCO- Brussels mentioned the progress being made in the organisation on various issues such as capacity-building, trade facilitation, compliance, and enforcement activities.

Chief Commissioner of Customs Chennai Ajit Kumar and joint Secretary Customs (CBIC) L Satya Srinivas were among those present.

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