Tue, 25 Feb 2003

GINSI urges importers to apply new customs license

Sari P. Setiogi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Importers Association of Indonesia (GINSI) urged importers to register at the Directorate General of Customs and Excise in its effort to curb the fraudulent use of import documents.

"The registration is important because about 600 of the country's 10,000 importers often falsified import documents to avoid duty and tax payments," GINSI chairman Amirudin Saud announced at a press conference in Jakarta on Monday.

Amirudin said that last year, GINSI reported the operation of about 200 "false" importers who misused import documents and would soon report another 50 to authorities.

The Directorate General of Customs and Excise requires importers to register by the end of March. If any importers fail to comply with this requirement, the institution will cease to serve such importer's customs needs, excepting one import transaction as of April 1.

The mandatory registration is based on Minister of Finance Decree No. 527/KMK.04/2002 and Minister of Trade and Industry Decree No. 819/MPP/Kep/12/2002 issued by both ministries on Dec. 30, 2002.

Upon the preliminary introduction of the decrees last year, GINSI criticized it and asked the government to revoke the new regulations because, as Amirudin said at the time, the registration requirement would only add to the bureaucracy and incur extra costs for the importers.

Amirudin has changed his tune since, and has asserted that the registration procedure is painless.

"The registration is totally free and can be submitted via the Internet to minimize contact between customs offices and the importers," said Amirudin.

Importers can register their companies at the customs office's website, http://www.beacukai.go.id

Importing procedures in the country are prone to collusive practices between customs staff and the importers using documents providing false information, such as addresses and the volume or amount of the commodity imported.

"Most of the fraudulent importers use false addresses. They collude with customs staff and avoid payments worth billions of rupiah. When the authorities try to follow up on importers to have them fulfill due payments, their addresses are usually found to be false," he said.

The registration, Amirudin said, would decrease the number of fraudulent importers to zero.

"The registration requires that importers' addresses as recorded on their import licenses (API), issued by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and their tax identification numbers (NPWP) should be consistent with each other," he said.

However, such a registration system would not solve the smuggling issue, he said. As long as the government still maintained Customs Law No. 10/1995, smuggling would continue to go on, because the law contained loopholes.

"The only way to fight smuggling is by revising the customs law and reinstate the pre-shipment inspection system," he said.