Importers create chain of corruption: Customs DG
By Hiranyada Dewasiri
Profit-oriented importers create a chain of corruption which Customs officials also partake in, charged Customs Director General Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Vijitha Ravipriya, following President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s recent criticism of corruption at Sri Lanka Customs.
“The aim of trade is to make higher profits. So, to do that, the importers use all the tricks they have up their sleeves. One of the main things importers do is undervaluation, where they undervalue the price of the goods that are to be imported. Then
they approach customs officials, wharf clerks and anyone else necessary to try to clear their goods to their side for as less of a cost as possible. Importers initiate this chain of corruption,” he told The Morning recently.
He added that the importer does not mind how much of a commission they have to pay to customs officials or any other party to cover up their wrongdoing because they can make that up from the profits they make.
“The importers have influenced the other officials to be corrupt. No importer has been sent to prison to date. They have not been held accountable to this date. I plan to capture the importers. There is no other way to combat the corruption in the system. We will hand over such cases to the Criminal Investigations Department,” he warned.
Ravipriya added that Customs officials who have been charged with wrongdoing have been interdicted.
“About five junior officers and Customs officers have been interdicted so far. Such a number of officials had never been interdicted before the Customs came under me. Crime investigation units have begun investigations against them now.”
During the “Gama Samaga Pilisandara” programme held in Kalutara on 23 January, the President raised concerns that although he has taken steps to make Maj. Gen. Ravipriya the Head of Customs, the progress the President had envisioned has not
been achieved yet.
He said that eliminating inefficiency in the public service is one of the requests of the people and that several measures have been taken to eradicate corruption and inefficiency at the Customs, for example. The President said he is determined to do away with such malpractices by going to the extent of removing officials who stand in the way of its success.