The Ministry of Finance revealed on Sunday the most important features of the proposed customs law reforms, which will facilitate trade and maintain control over customs ports and systems in order to protect the rights of the public treasury.
The reforms were detailed in a report by Magdy Abdel Aziz, head of the Finance Ministry’s Customs Authority to Finance Minister Amr El Garhy and Deputy Finance Minister Amr El Mounir.
Among the proposed reforms is the implementation of a 0.5% interest rate on delayed payments of customs on imports from abroad that are released according to a special customs act. In addition to the interest rate, customs officers will be given judicial rights to access all documents proving customs tax statuses.
The report revealed a new system of receiving advance information on all imported goods by requiring ships to prepare a detailed list of goods carried. The list will have to be signed by the ship captain and include the ship’s name, country of origin, types of goods carried, and number of packages on board, in addition to the names of the shipper, consignee, and ports where it will be shipped.
As a result, customs will have the right to prevent the entry of unknown substances that may pose a threat to shipyards, citizens, or national security and to require the carrier or his agent to tranship or execute the cargo on his account.
In order to avoid smuggling loopholes, the reforms also call for mandatory registration to initiate customs procedures. The reforms also plan to introduce a harsher punishment for smuggling, considering smuggling as a crime that violates honour, which will double the tax payment and allow authorities to confiscate smuggled goods by court order.
Abdel Aziz clarified that the reforms will also introduce a provision on the exchange of information and documents, which will allow electronic exchanges, facilitating the shipping process and reducing paperwork.
The temporary permit period, which allows the release of shipment without the payment of customs, will be shortened to one year. In the case that the finished product wasn’t exported, either abroad or to a free zone of a special economic nature, the customs tax should be paid.
To overcome the problem of neglected goods and merchandise, the waiting period of unclaimed goods will be reduced to one year, before being sold. If the goods are auctioned twice without being sold, government agencies or public legal persons may dispose of the goods after notifying owners by registered letter.
The reforms provide a penalty for attempted unlawful tax refunds through fraud and forgery. Settlement will be accepted only before a court rule to prevent stalling, and, in the case of existing court rule, a sentence of imprisonment or payment of fines will be applied.