Customs Ordinance is archaic, needs revamp: Mangala

Wednesday, 30 August 2017 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Finance Minister breaks ground for new container scanning system ‘Sri Lanka Customs Rapiscan’

Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera on Monday said the Customs Ordinance was archaic and complex and hence required a major revamp to keep it in line with modern times and challenges. 

He made this observation as the Chief Guest at the ground-breaking ceremony for the new container scanning system at Sri Lanka Customs. 

In his speech the Finance Minister also said the following.

In line with the Government’s policy of further integrating Sri Lanka into the global economy as a vibrant trading nation, as it has been for many thousand years, the role of Customs becomes ever more important as a facilitator of trade, securing our borders, and as a key revenue collector.

Technology plays a crucial role in driving the efficiency and efficacy of the function of Customs. The new container scanning systems will help reduce the time taken for cargo inspection and enables a more robust risk-based approach to Custom procedures. 

This will no doubt help in terms of trade facilitation and help address the scourge of smuggling, which has been a drain on state revenue and a threat to our security and safety.

Whilst we are taking important steps in the modernisation of the technology deployed in Sri Lanka Customs, it is essential that we take a more holistic approach to the modernisation of this important institution. 

The prevailing Customs legislation is almost 200 years old, based on the 1869 Customs Ordinance and following numerous amendments is now a complex and yet archaic law, that has not kept up with the developments of modern global trade. 

This Government is committed to making Sri Lanka a global trading hub – and we cannot achieve that with the key trade facilitation agency having nearly 200-year-old legislation. 

One of my key objectives as the Minister of Finance is to ensure that all our agencies work within a state-of-the-art legislative framework. In fact, we are in the process of updating many of the archaic laws in other areas as well.

We are in the final stages of bringing in a new Inland Revenue Act to be presented in Parliament next Wednesday which is a major positive reform for domestic revenue collection. In a similar vein, we will be looking at legislation in our other key institutions as well with the objective of raising our revenue significantly in the next few years.

Today’s new container scanning system marks an important step in our efforts to modernise our economic institutions. The Government is committed to continuing this journey of institutional reforms with greater vigour, after the budget in November and taking it to a fruitful conclusion. 

I look forward to the continued support of all key stakeholders in our endeavours to improve Sri Lanka’s trade and investment climate through institutional reform.”