“As our locally produced items are on par with imported items, we can vouch for the quality of our goods,”

Roundtable Discussions on ways and means for the economic development of the nation

  • U Than Htike Lwin, Managing Director of Proven Group of Co.

By Zaw Gyi
Photo Phay Zaw

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(Continued from Yesterday)
MRTV aired a live program on talks under the theme “On ways and means for the economic development of the nation” in which officials from the Customs Department under the Ministry of Planning and Finance and business people from private sector participated.
The panelists are U Kyaw Htin, Director-General of the Customs Department; U Thein Swe, Deputy Director-General of the Customs Department; Daw Khaing Khaing Nwe, Joint General Secretary of UMFCCI; Dr. Aung Zaw, Vice-Chairman of Myanmar Pharmaceutical and Medical Equipment Entrepreneurs Association; U Aye Han, Managing Director of United Paints Group of Co., Ltd; and U Than Htike Lwin, Managing Director of Proven Group of Co. They touched topics such as the tasks and performances of the Customs Department for the economic development of the nation; types of taxes and revenues; income tax levied during the one year period; the involvement of the customs department in the ASEAN Economic Community; the smooth functioning of trade; the containment of illegal trade; the development plan of SMEs; difficulties in connection with import substitutes and relevant advice; and the tasks of the Myanmar Pharmaceutical and Medical Equipment Entrepreneurs Association.
Coordinator: U Than Htike Lwin may kindly discuss first on the quality of locally produce goods compared to foreign imported items.
U Than Htike Lwin: I would like to present on the quality of our locally produce goods. We have local products with international standards. On my part, we have quality items of batteries and related lead raw metals for vehicles and machineries which could be fully given guarantee for quality assurance. We are exporting these items to foreign countries.
The products of UPG household paints are up to the international standard and we have solid market access in the country.
Similarly, the medicine items from the pharmaceutical factories of Dr. Aung Zaw also have international quality. As our locally produced items are on par with imported items, we can vouch for the quality of our goods.
Coordinator: Dr. Aung Zaw may kindly discuss your view.
Dr. Aung Zaw: I would like to share my view on illegal trade aspect on the medicine, household good items and foodstuff items flowing in from the border areas. These situations have negative impact on the local business people as well as to the consumers for having sub-standard items affecting and upsetting the health of the people. Moreover, the State has been losing revenue due to the illegal border trade that need to take action and curb the flow.
Director-General: With regards to the illegal trade, our Custom Department is taking up action to address the matter. The Deputy Director-General would discuss in detailed.
Deputy Director-General: I would like to present on the prevention and containment of illegal trade. The problems of illegal trade popped up due to many reasons, and that I would like to share some main issues in this matter.
The issues are such as that of the tax evasion of the importer and exporters; that of the declaration of value with lesser amount in the trade; that of many restrictions and limitations in export and import matters; that of the urgent need and heavy demand of local market of certain items to be imported; that of to avoid the international norm and standard; that of the greed for personal gain; that of some items legal in the country but illegal in other country; that of some items illegal in the country but legal in other country; that of more existence of illegal routes than the legal routes in the main illegal trade area in Muse and Myawaddy entry / exit gates resulting with area control problems; that of non-compliance of trade ethics and rules by the main trade companies and service provider associations. These situations have resulted with illegal border trade.
The most rampant illegal trade has been occurring at the entry and exit gates at the border areas. It is specially the Muse-Mandalay route; and the Myawaddy-Yangon-Mandalay route. With the guidance and directives of the Ministry of Planning and Finance, the Custom Departments is on the move for the prevention and containment of illegal trade through strategic plan on short term and long term timeframe.
In the short term plan, the management and supervision of the regional governments and the state governments have incorporated for border station inspection at the entry and exit gates, where permanent inspection tasks and surprised inspection tasks have been applied. The modern X-Ray devices have been installed such as (10) units in Yangon area; (3) units in Muse and Myawaddy area. Due to this effective performance and operation, (35,959) arrests have been realized with estimated value of over MMK (56) billion in 2017-2018 financial year; during 2018 mini budget financial year, (4862) arrests have been recorded with estimated value of over MMK (21) billion.
With a view to curbing and containing the illegal trade in the long term plan, we are prepared to establish the system of containerization in the country. The nature of this system is to transport the commodities in the containers, and that it would be easier to identity the legal goods and illegal goods. The system would be operated through the e-Lock (Electronic Lock) combination.
When the containerization is being used in conjunction with the e-Lock system, the goods in the container would be checked first, and then secured with e-Lock system. Then it would be delivered to the destination preventing any tamper or corruption on the way.
Another way of prevention is to conduct single stop inspection, where two custom departments jointly inspect the commodities at the same time in the same place. It is the method of joint inspection by two custom departments at the designated venue of border areas over the import and export items. By doing this, illegal import and export would be reduced and the border trade statistics of two countries would be more accurate.
This task is to be implemented under the (6) Mekong region Cross Border Transport Agreement. In this connection, we are planning to sign bilateral agreements between Myanmar- China; and Myanmar-Thailand.
Another plan is about the Bonded Warehouse System which is the norm of international practise. The scheme of bonded warehouse means that the approved commodities are allowed to import in advance without the permits and keep them in the bonded warehouse.
When it is needed for local consumption or distribution, delivery permit is sought, and then tax is being paid. Next, the items are being taken out from the bonded warehouse. It could be done in the same way to export to other countries.
This system would help reduce the illegal trade in the country. Moreover, the custom inspection units would be equipped with staff housing, cargo/vehicle inspection platforms, and X-Ray devices systematically within the allocated budget.
With a view to deter the unlawful deal, the strategic plan for the containment of illegal trade is in the process of drafting. I am of the view that this strategic plan is to be mainly undertaken by the Custom Department, however, relevant departments, regional authorities, and security teams must come together in cooperation in joining hands with the exporters and importer and the service providers in curbing and reducing the illegal trade of the country.
Coordinator: Thanks to all participants for their contributions of suggestions. We would like to hear the view of the Custom Department.
Director-General: For the economic development of the country, the mere smooth functioning of the Custom Department is not adequate. Being a country largely depending on imported items, we need to reduce the imported merchandise into the country.
At the same time, we need to export the quality good to other countries to earn foreign income. In accordance with the preferential tariff treatment, concessions are being accorded over the imported goods from ASEAN member countries and ASEAN plus (5) countries as arranged in the agreements. Similarly, the quality goods of our country should be exported to ASEAN member countries and ASEAN plus (5) countries to enable to enjoy the preferential tariff treatment.
To enjoy the concessions in this regards, we have to focus and encourage on the development of SMEs industries, expanding the banking business, and uplifting the infrastructure schemes. Moreover, the compliance and conformity of the importers and the exporters are also very much vital.
The laws, by-laws, procedures, and directives must be enacted and prescribed that advocate, support and encourage the market competition in the country.
I would like to conclude that the implementation task on each and every sector should expose and uncover the advantages and disadvantages, and then the problems are to be addressed by working out in cooperation among the government departments, the private associations with clear understanding so as to push the economic development of the nation.

Translated by UMT (Ahlone)

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