Sri Lanka Customs is looking to improve facilitation procedures in order to support trade and boost revenue, according to Director General, Jagath Wijeweera.
“Our new policy at Sri Lanka Customs is one of openness. Instead of acting primarily as an investigator, we are now aiming to step-up facilitation procedures drastically.
"We are always open for discussions on any matter or Customs regulations and I invite all concerned parties to come forward and discuss such matters in order to find a suitable solution,” Wijeweera stated.
He made the comments during an address to the Ceylon Motor Traders Association’s (CMTA)’ recently held Annual General Meeting.
“In the recent past Customs has been subject criticism and we have had to deal with some bad experiences but these issues are gradually being weeded out and Sri Lanka Customs is now genuinely gearing to help
As always we are looking to be as thorough as possible, however we have still identified the investigative role of customs as more of a hindrance.” Wijeweera noted.
To that end, he stated that Sri Lanka Customs would be implementing training programmes in order to ensure a disciplined level of service, along with increased transparency and efficiency.
“Such measures must be taken as soon as possible or else the operation of Customs will deteriorate further,” he cautioned.
Opinion on Wijeweera’s calls for a greater emphasis on facilitation appears to be divided with many importers having lodged complaints regarding the excessive delays in clearing items through customs.
Wijeweera himself had previously referred to “procedural lapses and abuses of power” by Customs officials in the carrying out of investigations.
However, others have warned that the curtailment of investigative activities of Sri Lanka Customs could lead to a significant loss of revenue towards the state as a result of a failure to conduct sufficient inquiries.