The World Bank (WB) on Friday approved an additional $21.50 million grant to improve the effectiveness of customs clearance at border crossings and inland clearance depots (ICDs) in Afghanistan.
The additional grant from the bank’s International Development Association (IDA) will build upon and expand the progress being made under the Second Customs Reform and Trade Facilitation Project (SCRTF) being implemented by the Afghanistan Customs Department (ACD) since May 2010, the bank said in a statement. Since 2002, customs collections in Afghanistan have grown dramatically, rising from some $50 million in 2002-03 to more than $1 billion in 2012, contributing more than 35 percent of revenues in 2014-15, the statement said.Since 2012, however, the unprecedented political, security, and economic transition have affected Afghanistan’s economic growth.Domestic revenues, which had risen from three percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2002 to 11.6 percent in 2011, fell to 8.5 percent in 2014; customs collections too stagnated over the last few years. The project has helped computerize 14 customs offices so far, with the Khost office becoming operational recently.The additional grant will help finance costs associated with the continuation of existing project activities, supporting reform progress, and strengthening the prospects for long-term sustainability. “The new (Afghan) government has indicated its commitment to improving revenue collection,” said Bob Saum, World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan.“We hope the additional grant will result in improving overall customs performance, particularly in automation and collaborative border management, to ensure that legitimate goods are processed and released in a fair and efficient manner.”Specific activities will include: Rollout of automation to the remaining border crossings and ICDs as well as technological solutions to enhance surveillance capabilities.Continued refurbishment, rehabilitation or new construction of selected customs infrastructure, improving mechanisms for cooperation with neighboring customs administrations, including real time data exchange and provision of technical assistance and capacity building in key areas.Further improvement and enhancement of systems for monitoring customs performance through the use of an automated executive dashboard and alerts mechanism.Provision of technical assistance and capacity building in key areas that introduce modern approaches to customs administration, including the design of a National Trade Information Portal (TIP) and a National Single Window (NSW) system.
Support to the Customs Training Academy, and strengthening of Risk Management, valuation, enforcement and post clearance verification functions.