Fighting corruption in customs administration: what can we learn from recent experiences?
In many developing countries, customs efficiency is hampered by widespread corruption. This creates a major disincentive and obstacle to trade expansion. This paper examines the nature of customs corruption and suggests some practical paths to integrity. It is based on fact-finding studies of recent experience of customs reform in Bolivia, Pakistan and the Philippines. The analysis throws up five key conclusions. The first is the need to recognise the main types of corruption, namely routine, fraudulent and criminal corruption. The second shows that strategies based on investigation and sanctions cannot correct a situation of widespread corruption. The third highlights the need to identify those points in the customs process that afford special opportunities for customs to seek irregular payments and for traders and agents to offer them. Fourthly, the broader environment is seen as a crucial element to opening up and preserving the possibilities of serious reform. Finally, Hors identifies some powerful elements for successful implementation, such as a careful assessment of the institutional scene and balance of powers.