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India key player in customs processes

India will play a leading role in the facilitation of global customs processes, according to a top official of the WCO.

india Updated: Jan 28, 2006 13:08 IST

India will play a leading role in the facilitation of global customs processes, according to a top official of the World Customs Organisation (WCO).

Speaking to INEP agency on the occasion of International Customs Day and India's Republic Day, WCO general secretary Michel Danet said there had been a long tradition of cooperation between the Indian customs administration and the intergovernmental customs body, headquartered in London.

"Indian customs have always played a part in steering bodies by presenting candidates for the elective posts in the WCO," he said.

Danet was even more impressed by India's IT powerhouses and expertise. The recognition has led the WCO to organise its 2006 "WCO information technology conference and exhibition" in Bangalore.

"The most futuristic IT country is India and the most sophisticated IT companies are in Bangalore", said the WCO official whose IT adviser is an Indian professor from an American University.

"I want this to be the biggest and most successful operation to demonstrate the success and modernity of Indian customs.

"With increased globalisation, it is difficult to support the many directions all our 169 members are taking. We want to have specific seminars on new technologies during which time the businesses can explain the most sophisticated products in the market."

He hopes the conference, which will focus on outsourcing and offshoring, will generate ideas to facilitate customs automation, and conceptual and logistics related customs issues.

Danet says modernising customs technology will facilitate eliminating corruption in customs. "However, I am a cynic. Technology is not the solution, just the means. Corruption is a human and cultural issue. When customs is corrupt it means the environment is corrupt. Customs is the mirror of society, the justice system and the authorities."

He underscored the need of a strong political will to fight this phenomenon. "Previously customs taxes and duties used to feed the budget but with globalisation, customs needs a more economically focused policy. Because globalisation is a harmonisation of all roles."

He praised India's initiative in taking part in customs developments, particularly when it addressed the need to find solutions to problems concerning global commercial freight.

India has expressed an interest in the vice chairmanship of the WCO. Currently this position is being held by China and decisions regarding India's offer are to be taken in Beijing later this year.

The intergovernmental customs body with 169 member countries adapts to changing customs communication and facilitates cooperation with other customs organisations. It conducts its work in sync with the World Trade Organisation headquartered in Geneva.

The WCO IT conference is scheduled for the April 6-8, 2006, and sponsors include IT leaders such as Microsoft, Oracle and SAP. Apart from the WCO chairman, chief executive officers of India's top IT companies, and India's Finance Minister P Chidambaram will also attend the conference.

First Published: Jan 28, 2006 13:08 IST