Kosovo: Lot of complains regarding the UNMIK Custom Services
Business Community is asking to be treated better by UNMIK Customs Service, considering that they contribute mostly to the Kosovo Budget
By Arbana Xharra
Prishtinë, May 17, 2006 – Most of business are not satisfied with the UNMIK Customs Service. This community complains with the bureaucratic procedures, of Customs Service. They say that Customs Service does not offer what they need and does not ease the customs procedures for their goods. Business community is asking to be treated better by Customs officials, considering that they contribute mostly to the Kosovo Budget. The complaints are of different nature, including delays at the border and the implementation of the new code like taxes of excise.
“In most cases the Kosovo Chamber of Commerce and the business community have addressed the problems together and often we have invited representatives of Custom Services to take part in these discussions”, said Besim Beqaj, Head of the Kosovo Chamber of Commerce.
On the other hand the Custom Officials dissert that delays at border crossings. “In 2005 we have conducted a study at Hani i Elezit crossing point and it indicated that there are really delays. But the longest delays were because of banks and customs agencies. In order to prevent this we have invited all these agencies and explained the results of this research to them and encouraged them to take measures in this regard”, Naim Huruglica, Deputy General Director of UNMIK Customs Service said.
He said that he is very proud of Customs Service of Kosovo. “We would not have achieved this without the great help of the international community, including the European Commission in Kosovo. They have conducted a study last year to determine where Kosovo Custom Services have reached the standards of a country that can enter the European Union. The study indicates that customs have achieved about 90% of those standards”.
“For every collected Euro we spent two cents. Our budget is 8 Million Euros. With this budget we finance not only our salaries but also services and investments”, said Huruglica.
But, Besim Beqaj, is convinced that Customs Services are not the ones that contribute to the Kosovo Consolidated Budget (KCB) - they are the ones that collect resources. “In fact the business community is the one that contribute mostly to KCB”, Beqaj said.
According to him, the Customs Services is an institution that has the duty to collect income for the budget at the border. “I think that the Kosovo Government should change its macroeconomic policy in order to fill the budget not only from customs services, but from inside the country” said Beqaj adding that the method that is used drains the capital from the business community even before they have started their activity and this is the most negative feature. Surely the new customs code has created facilities for the business community. But businessmen sometimes do not understand all these facilities. “We are in agreement with the Director of Customs Services to have more meetings in order to clarify things for businesses. The Chamber of Commerce understands very well the role of Customs Service, which is an executive body of economic policies that the Government and the Assembly adopt. What we should eliminate in custom services are long delays at customs points and also possibilities of subjective assessments by customs officials. If these two issues are solved the business community will have no reason to complaint about customs services”, said Beqaj.
Regarding the business complaints Officials from Customs Service justify that legislation from the beginning was unclear.
”Until 2004, when the Legislation Code of Customs Services was adopted, we used to work according to the former customs law of former Yugoslavia. The new legislation code in Kosovo is in accordance with the European Union legislation”, said Huruglica. He explained that today Customs have 574 workers and most of them don’t have more than two years of experience. Regarding to him it is hard to expect from a personnel with an average age of not more than 27-28 to be as efficient as the business community expects.