Mon, 31 Oct 1994

Customs office to recover unpaid import tariffs

JAKARTA (JP): The Directorate General of Customs and Excise is trying to recover funds from importers who are reluctant to pay their due arrears on "unpaid" import duties.

Director of Verification Roy Ronald Lino said in a one-day workshop on customs and excise here over the weekend that many importers still have "unpaid duties" owed to the government due to the mistakes made by the Geneva-based Societe Generale de Surveillance (SGS) in its inspections.

"After our verification, we found that SGS had made mistakes in some pre-shipment inspections on products to be exported to Indonesia, especially in calculating tariffs," Roy said.

In 1985, in its effort to make the inflow of goods run smoothly and to prevent corruption and red tape, the government hired SGS to inspect Indonesia's imports at points of loading. Previously, goods inspection were carried out by the Directorate General of Customs and Excise at the country's ports of entry.

According to the Advisory Group in Economy, Industry and Trade (Econit), SGS carries out the inspection of 68 percent of the country's imports, while the rest are administered by the state- owned PT Surveyor Indonesia.

However, the government has given authority to the directorate general to review the work of the two surveyor companies and to conduct selective on-arrival inspections if necessary.


Roy noted that many tariffs determined by SGS were lower than the actual tariffs set by the government and others were actually higher.

"If tariffs determined by SGS were higher than they should have been then the government is committed to returning the exceeding amount," Roy noted.

However, he added, when SGS-determined tariffs were less than they should be the importers showed reluctance in paying the difference to the government. "They claim that it's not their fault as they got the tariff levels from SGS."

When asked, Roy declined to give the exact amount of the government's "unpaid" revenues resulting from the miscalculation of import tariffs, saying that the amount changes from time to time.

He reiterated that his office is trying to recover the losses as it has the authority to do so, based on Article 20 of the existing Customs Ordinance. However, his office has no authority in forcing the defiant importers to pay the outstanding sums.

"If we fail to recover the due payments, we just transfer the case to the General Agency for the State Credits and Auctions, which has the authority to deal with such importers," Roy said. (rid)