TODAY IS FRIDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2017, 8:44:31 PM
VISUALLY VERSION
The first stage of the opinion poll, conducted in February-March of 2006

This report represents the results of the first stage of the opinion poll, conducted in February-March of 2006 pursuant to the conditions of the Terms of Reference of the Contract No.57 CDP/QCBS/069-C “Polling of stakeholders”, dated 26.05.2005 and made between the FCS of Russia and the All-Russian Opinion Research Center (WCIOM) in the framework of the Project of modernization of the customs authorities’ information system.

The poll was carried out amongst the target groups (“participants of foreign trade”, “personnel of customs posts”, the “target group of experts”, which included officials, leaders and members of public and professional organizations, associations, and mass media), singled out in the course of designing of the poll methodical layout, and specified more exactly based on the results of carrying out of a tentative poll.

The objectives of the attempted survey was a study of attitude to be shown by all participants of foreign trade (hereinafter, FEA), concerned Russian officials as well as by general public circles towards the customs reform being implemented and significance of its results.

The polls, carried out at the fist stage of research work, were directed to solution of the following problems:

- evaluation of the information level of vested interests in respect of implemented modernization of the customs authorities’ information system;

 - general comparative appraisal of operations of customs authorities at the beginning of implementation of the project of modernization of the customs authorities’ information system;

- evaluation of the main problems, arising in the course of modernization of the information system with reference to each target group;

 - identification by stakeholders’ representatives of guidelines and measures to increase efficiency of customs authorities’ activity with regard to modernization of the information system.

In accordance with the results of the conducted poll, based on assessments of the majority of respondents of the target group “participants of foreign trade” (72%), their enterprises face certain challenges when interacting with customs authorities, which affect both current activities of an enterprise and its development prospects. However, it is worth noting that only 3% of respondents have pointed at occurrence of “insuperable problems” as related to interaction with customs authorities, whereas for the majority these problems were of “moderate severity” (39%), or “minor problems” (30%).

 In the course of polling respondents of all three groups under study were offered to make a comparative assessment of prevalence of individual negative developments discovered in operations of customs authorities for the period prior to beginning of reforming of customs authorities’ activities and at present time. As a distinctive “reference point” for a comparative assessment of these changes the respondents were offered to evaluate these changes subject to introduction of the new Customs Code.

Specifying changes that have taken place in quality of operations of customs authorities for the last two years, members of all three target groups were found to be keeping to the same view point – changes in quality of operations of customs authorities can be characterized as positive.

At the same time members of target groups under study practically had the same attitude towards qualification of positive changes in activities of customs services. Both representatives of participants of foreign trade, and personnel of customs posts as well as representatives of the target group of experts, while marking off positive changes in activities of customs services, emphasized, above all, time reduction in customs clearance of goods, simplification of rules of customs clearance of importation and implementation of electronic form of goods declaring.

 In the course of polling the respondents of the two groups under study – participants of foreign trade and the target group of experts – were offered to make a comparative assessment of a degree of abundance of individual negative developments which had been discovered in operations of customs services before introduction of the new Customs Code and at the present time. Traces of improvement were distinctly found in assessments made by the majority of the respondents in respect of changes, resulting in significant reduction of occurrence of such negative developments as inconvenient operational schedule, red-tape arbitrary treatment of certain customs officers. Interaction had improved in terms of exchange of information between personnel of customs services and participants of foreign trade.

At the same time according to respondents’ estimates, less significant changes have touched such an aspect of customs services’ activity as the requirement for presenting of excessive – contrary to law – number of documents. However, even this aspect was generally indicative of distinct improvement, emanating from ongoing reforms. The same assessments of the respondents-participants of foreign trade were specific with regard to degree of abundance of such negative developments in operations of customs services as corrupt practices and lack of professional competence of personnel of customs services.

As for description of causes of negative manifestations, taking place, in respondents’ opinion, in activities of customs authorities, members of each of the target groups under study took up different attitudes. If, according to participants of foreign economic activities, worsening of operations of customs authorities was geared to a high level of bureaucracy, “personnel of customs services”, contrariwise, geared this degradation primarily to inability of participants of foreign trade to make out appropriate customs documentation in proper and timely manner.

The polling results of the first stage of research activities also allowed to draw conclusion in respect of a high level of information awareness, above all, of members of the two following target groups under study – “participants of foreign trade” and the “target group of experts” – in respect of implemented reform of customs authorities, in particular, in respect of modernization of the customs authorities’ information system.

In this regard, according to undivided opinion of respondents, modernization of the information system had facilitated above all simplification and enhancement of “transparency” of procedures of customs clearance of goods.

 Considerably less uncommon as expected results of implemented modernization, respondents-customs officers would name decrease of misconduct and white-collar crime at the customs end.

 The results of the conducted poll had failed to indicate substantial differences in assessments made by the groups under study of efficiency of electronic declaring of goods. According to opinion of the majority of respondents of each of the target groups, introduction of electronic form of declaring of goods considerably contributed to simplification of the procedure of customs clearance of goods.

Nevertheless, the polling results indicated a considerably low level of popularity of electronic form of declaring of goods. In many ways, this situation could be accounted not so much for a failure of many customs posts to switch over to electronic declaring, but mostly for substantial, according to estimates of respondents-participants of foreign trade, additional expenditures, technical problems, related to absence of a communications channel, the requirement of linking-up with customs’ computer network and lack of dedicated software.

 In the course of the research, the respondents, who made use of electronic mode of documents presentation, were offered to evaluate convenience of software of electronic declaring of goods. In doing so, the overwhelming majority of members of the target group “personnel of customs posts” and members of the target group “participants of foreign trade” made positive assessments. At the same time, among disadvantages of the software “personnel of customs posts” gave notice to “insufficient information awareness of the software product” (lack of data in respect of goods and in respect of execution of documents) and labor intensity.

Whereas members of the group “participants of foreign trade” substantially more often earmarked such drawbacks of the software of electronic declaring as time length of data retrieval, existence of buried errors, adjustment inconvenience, control complexity.

On the whole, the polling results indicated that members of the target groups under study considered the accomplished modernization of the information system of customs authorities and, above all, development of electronic flow of documents, assurance of more effective cooperation between customs services and participants of foreign trade.