04, 2008

Today President Serzh Sarkissian held a working meeting with the leadership of the State Customs Committee.

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Present at the meeting were Prime Minister Tigran Sarkissian, Head of Presidential Staff Armen Gevorkian, and other officials.

According to the President of Armenia, it is obvious that in recent years the activities of the customs officials and their professionalism, as well as the technical equipment of the service have significantly improved, and it is an achievement. However, along with the achievements the system still suffers from appalling incidents, corruption, nepotism, and arrogance, which undoubtedly impede the economic development and arouse justified resentment of those who deal with this structure.

According to Serzh Sarkissian, all those employees who are not ready to diligently perform their duties must leave the agency, while those who are ready to work honestly and serve the society and the state will be assisted in their work by all possible means.

“In our country there will not be individuals or structures which can exert pressure on the customs or engage in smuggling,” stressed the President of Armenia.

According to him, smuggling is equal to shadow profiting, which undermines the economy, creates unequal conditions and for honest businessmen turns conducting business into a torment.

Among the priorities Serzh Sarkissian mentioned the unyielding fight against the so-called “extra files”, when a file is being opened for a ninety-five year old villager, presenting him as the owner of a multi-million business, which in a couple of weeks or months naturally closes down with all traces gone. “Many of you are familiar with this issue. I am sure that some of you even know who in particular is engaged in this kind of activities, but turn a blind eye on it,” underscored President Sarkissian.

The next issue pointed out by the President was the necessity to fight against the import into Armenia of goods declared as tax free and zero VAT goods, when in reality they are not. In his words, recently the check ups revealed a huge number of such goods, which were declared as entirely different products. The President of Armenia said that he was confident it would not be possible to carry it out without the direct involvement of the customs officials.

Serzh Sarkissian tasked the customs’ leadership to pay special attention to the issues of temporary import, when goods are being declared as temporary import, enter Armenia for alleged processing and then are exported.

According to the President of Armenia all these examples constitute the legalization of smuggling and involved billions of drams, which our country needs dearly. With this regard the President of Armenia attached special importance to the joint work of customs and tax administration.

The next issue raised by Serzh Sarkissian was related to the price of the goods, and to so-called “control prices”. He said that the even though it is permitted by law, the customs officials should not change the prices deliberately once a week: their activities must be extremely transparent and open to the public. All the control prices should appear at the website of the Customs Committee and every businessman should be able to access that information at any time.

According to Serzh Sarkissian eventually the Customs should register the prices declared by the importer. In his opinion, the State wouldn’t lose a single penny, if there were a well-coordinated work between the Customs and the Tax Administration.

Another priority mentioned by the President was the necessity to complete the program of technical modernization, which also means the improvement of work culture and civilized communication with the public.

In conclusion the President of Armenia said, “Customs and tax revenues are the only source for the improvement of social conditions in our country. It means that we must take the road of self-purification, raise the level of the services provided by these entities. The Customs Committee should facilitate development of business and improve conditions for doing business.

We should live in a normal country, where everyone can engage in business without any complications. Studies show that it is mostly small and medium businesses which encounter difficulties; major businesses have no problems in Armenia, especially with the Customs. It means something.

I repeat, there must not be any privileged individuals. Equal conditions should be created for everyone, and this is your primary task.”

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