Aditya Suharmoko, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
The government aims to fully implement this year the so-called Indonesia National Single Window (INSW) system, which is aimed at streamlining export and import flow and preventing smuggling.
However, the system may not be effective unless it is managed by a highly trained work force and is integrated with financial institutions.
Finance Minister Sri Mulyani recently expressed concern over a lack of "good" officials guarding the country's export and import gateways in the lead up to the INSW system's introduction.
"The main problem with the implementation of INSW was the officials' readiness".
"The system can be implemented, but are the officials ready to comply with it?" Mulyani said during an event in Semarang, Central Java.
Frustrated with the corrupt officials infesting the customs office, Mulyani invited in June the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to raid the Tanjung Priok customs office in Jakarta.
Eight customs officials were accused of having received kickbacks in exchange for letting unlicensed good enter the country.
The Finance Ministry's Director General of Customs and Excise Anwar Suprijadi said the office was plagued by workers lacking in integrity.
However, he said he was optimistic a newly applied internal compliance monitoring system would help combat corruption at his office before the full implementation of INSW.
Tanjung Priok port Jakarta was the first port to be equipped with the system, in late 2007. Tanjung Emas port was updated with the system this month. The government has less than five months to install the system in two remaining shipping ports and Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang.
The shipping ports include Tanjung Perak port in Surabaya, East Java, and Belawan port in Medan, North Sumatra.
According to the Finance Ministry, only 143 importers have so far signed up to enact the system out of 14,000 registered importers, 30 percent of which are categorized as "high risk", meaning they are suspected of smuggling.
According to the INSW preparation team, Indonesia has 17,500 importers.
Importers can register at www.insw.go.id
, after which they will be inspected by the Finance Ministry.
"There will not be any ghost importers playing around after the INSW system is fully applied," Mulyani said.
The system is designed to weed out illegal exporters and importers though a scrupulous verification process.
"Importers that have yet to register with INSW by the end of 2008 may not be eligible to conduct import and export activities," Anwar said.
The Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry's deputy chairman overseeing customs, Chris Kanter, said the government should overhaul all customs officials in a bid to improve integrity before INSW is applied.
"The (government) policies are good, but the officials need to be restructured," Chris said.
He also said the INSW might not be effective until it had been integrated with supporting systems of the customs and excise offices and banks.
"If they are all online, the flow of goods will definitely be faster, effective and efficient," he said.
Next year, the government will integrate the system with the ASEAN Single Window (ASW) system.
Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand will combine their national export and import systems.
Other ASEAN countries -- Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam -- will have to join ASW by 2012 at the latest.
ASW is part of the 2015 ASEAN Economic Community, as declared by leaders of ASEAN countries last year in Singapore.
Authorities enacting the INSW system
1. Health Ministry
2. Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry
3. Industry Ministry
4. Forestry Ministry
5. State Minister for Environment's Office
6. Agriculture Ministry
7. Transportation Ministry
8. Directorate General of Postal and Telecommunications
9. Nuclear Supervision Agency
10. National Police
11. Directorate General of Customs and Excise
12. Directorate General of International Trade
13. Drugs and Foods Monitoring Agency
14. Agriculture Quarantine Agency
15. Fish Quarantine Center
Source: INSW Preparation Team