High costs of corruption in customs pose risk to economic prosperity -WCO

Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service Hameed Ali

The World Customs Organisation (WCO) has acknowledged that the high costs of corruption in customs have posed risks to both economic prosperity and national security.

For this reason, the WCO noted that its members have placed fighting corruption and promotion of integrity at the top of their agenda.

Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, the Secretary General of the WCO, acknowledged the economic risks of corruption to both private and public sectors during the 2019 World Anti-Corruption Day celebrated worldwide yesterday.

According to him, ‘’the WCO would like to take this opportunity, on the occasion of International Anti-Corruption Day, to acknowledge all of its Members who are taking direct action and making clear commitments to address this important issue.

“Indeed, the WCO has expended enormous efforts to assist Customs administrations in tackling corruption and promoting integrity, which leads to increased economic prosperity and social development.”

More notably, the WCO’s policy document Customs in the 21st Century emphasizes the importance of the fight against corruption, the safeguarding of integrity, and the enhancement of good governance measures.

Furthermore, the WCO Revised Arusha Declaration Concerning Good Governance and Integrity in Customs provides Customs administrations with a practical approach for formulating anti-corruption policies and practices as stipulated in Article 5 of the UNCAC, and aligns with and encompasses elements of a number of other Articles of the Convention relating to codes of conduct, transparency in the public sector, and engagement with the private sector as a key partner against corruption. 

The Revised Arusha Declaration is the focal point of the WCO’s anti-corruption and integrity development efforts. The Organization also acts as a steward of best practices on integrity, having developed a number of tools and expert resources to help its Members’ anti-corruption efforts. In addition, the WCO has sought ways to meet its Members’ expressed need for more focused and sustained support for their integrity initiatives. 

In this regard, in January 2019, the WCO launched the Anti-Corruption & Integrity Promotion (A-CIP) Programme for Customs. This technical assistance and capacity building programme aims to support selected WCO Members in making the necessary changes to their operational and administrative context, which not only restricts corrupt behaviour, but also promotes good governance in Customs operations.  This Programme will, therefore, bring more WCO Members in line with the Revised Arusha Declaration’s provisions. 

With the assistance of the WCO’s donor partners, especially the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), the A-CIP Programme is growing in reach to include more WCO Members who have demonstrated interest and commitment to its principles.  The Programme is also helping to highlight complementarities between the WCO’s work in this space and that of other institutions such as the UNODC and the UNDP, resulting in the strengthening of international cooperation to achieve common anti-corruption outcomes.

Finally, the WCO’s commitment to this important area of work is most recently evident with the inclusion of integrity as a key priority area in the WCO Strategic Plan for 2019-2022.  As a result, further development of WCO tools and instruments, technical assistance and capacity building for its Members is planned.  Consequently, integrity as a cross-cutting issue is increasingly being included as a key topic for discussion across the WCO’s technical activities.

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