Retailers sceptical about Customs

Published on Tue, 17/05/2011, 11:18:00

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The Fair Imports Alliance is outraged that Customs is withholding a reporting containing the results of a three month crackdown in import rorts.

This comes ahead of this Friday’s deadline for submissions to the Productivity Commissions’ inquiry into the retail industry including examining the future status of the GST threshold.

Fair Imports Alliance spokesperson Brad Kitschke said because the Enhanced Compliance Campaign report is not available and open to scrutiny, the entire process lacks transparency and credibility.  

“Industry should have been provided with the full report well ahead of the deadline for submissions to allow proper analysis. The Customs Compliance campaign finished eight weeks ago and since then we’ve been asking for the report but we have been told it has been given to the Minister and we can’t see it,” he said.

“This is either a case of incompetence and inefficiency, or it is deliberate. Perhaps Customs doesn’t want industry to have the data before submissions are lodged. After all, depriving us of key information before we make our submission only makes sense if Customs doesn’t want industry to respond to it.”

The Enhanced Compliance Campaign was announced on 18 December when the Government established the Productivity Commission Inquiry. The campaign started on 1 January and ran for three months. It focused on determining if imports were being undervalued to take advantage of the tax free status of imports under $1000.

The Fair Imports Alliance said it has had concerns about Customs and a lack of transparency for some time and has raised them directly with Customs Minister Brendan O’Connor.

“Last week Customs admitted it had never undertaken any modelling to determine the feasibility of a lower threshold. The data from the Enhanced Compliance Campaign was supposed to help fill in the blanks, but we are as in the dark as we were six months ago,” Kitschke said.

“Customs also started the enforcement campaign without surveying industry. They didn’t even read a report we provided them about import rorts and loopholes. They ignored us and didn’t answer our questions. Now they have withheld key information from us with only a few days left before submission deadlines.”


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