Meeting with Chairman of State Customs Committee Yuri Senko

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The performance of the Belarusian customs service in 2017 and short-term development prospects were discussed at the working meeting of Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko and Chairman of the State Customs Committee Yuri Senko on 22 September.

One of the matters discussed during the working meeting was the generation of revenues for the budget in the areas of responsibility of the State Customs Committee. Aleksandr Lukashenko enquired about the statistics on the movement of goods, vehicles, and people across the border. “I hear some unbelievable numbers again. The traffic of goods and people soared by a third. How does it benefit us?” the Belarusian leader asked.

According to Yuri Senko, the State Customs Committee fully meets the target set forth for the revenue collection. He clarified that this is about the estimated numbers based on the statistics on the economics and business and on the projections. When compared with the same period last year, the amount of payments to the budget increased by almost $250 million due to effective work, intensified export-import operations and transit via Belarus.

During the meeting the head of state said: “In order to rule out complaints about large queues at the border, are we improving border control procedures for the sake of faster passage of commodities, natural persons, and vehicles? Tell me about the state of affairs.”

Yuri Senko said that they had been able to shave off some time by automating certain processes and introducing digital declarations. The new technology has expedited data sharing, data processing, and decision making. In 2018 they will be able to improve the infrastructure of border checkpoints in the abovementioned directions and secure larger throughput. The Latvian direction is very important from the point of view of the ice hockey world championship that Belarus and Latvia will host in 2021 and the Second European Games Belarus will host in 2019. Naturally the committee expects an increase in passenger traffic. This is why the customs service should be ready to handle all the traffic in this direction.

The working meeting also focused on the efforts to prevent the transportation of forbidden goods though the Belarusian border. “Let’s speak about the transportation of extremely hazardous products, for example, psychotropic substances, drugs, weapons, radioactive substances. How do we cooperate with our western partners in this field?” the Belarusian leader asked.

According to Yuri Senko, this year the Belarusian customs service has thwarted 50 attempts to move drugs through the state border in the direction of Belarus and Russia.

The participants of the working meetings also discussed the enforcement of the Customs Code of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) on 1 January 2018. Yuri Senko gave the Belarusian President the first copy of the Customs Code of the EAEU. The document comprises all the international agreements of the five member states, and also a number of novelties that take into account the present-day economic needs.

Aleksandr Lukashenko asked what has already been done for the implementation of the document. “To what extent does this Customs Code correspond to the current realities? When it was in the works, certain compromises were made, of course,” the head of state said.

“In fact we already operate under the new document. Many of the novelties laid down in the new Customs Code have already been tested in Belarus. On 1 January 2018 the document will become our main guideline. We took into account the needs of our ministries and agencies responsible for the country’s economic performance, the interests of business associations who also took part in the development of the document. Some issues, however, have been left for domestic regulation,” Yuri Senko said.

No extraordinary situation is expected as the Customs Code of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) takes effect on 1 January 2018 because all the preparations were made in advance.