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Actions implemented to promote ethics and Integrity in Guatemalan Customs

By Mayora IP - 29/07/2020

According to Guatemalan law, the Tax Administration Superintendency (Superintendencia de Administración Tributaria – SAT) is responsible for managing internal revenue and those taxes collected from foreign trade. The latter is in charge of the Customs Administration.

In 2015, Guatemala went through a large-scale case of Customs fraud that involved officials from different levels, affecting institutional credibility, employee morale and taxpayers' trust. In this light, it became essential to work on substantial matters, implementing a number of actions to promote ethics and Integrity within the Customs and Revenue Administration, as well as in
the international trade supply chain. Additionally, strategies were put in place to fight corruption.

These measures were developed in the Institutional Strategic Plan 2018-2023, with the aim of embracing these efforts as a comprehensive policy, framed within the good practices stated by the World Customs Organization (WCO) in the Declaration of the Customs Co-operation Council Concerning Good Governance and Integrity in Customs, better known as the Revised
Arusha Declaration (2003).

The Tax Administration called on the WCO and related partners to put a cooperation and institutional strengthening agenda in motion that would address the topic of ethics and Integrity from a comprehensive and multidimensional perspective, achieving the implementation of the following strategic measures:

a) Implementation of Decree number 37-2016 by the Guatemalan Congress, Law for the Strengthening of Fiscal Transparency and Governance of the Tax Administration Superintendency, as well as the Reforms to Decree number 1-98 by the Guatemalan Congress, Organic Law of the Tax Administration Superintendency. These reforms were aimed at ensuring internal control and transparency in the exercise of SAT ́s functions.

b) Creation of an Office of Internal Affairs at managerial level, in charge of generating strategies for prevention and reaction. Actions have been put in place to enhance recruitment when working with profiles of candidates applying for Customs posts. Furthermore, reliability controls have been implemented with Customs personnel to tackle corruption. An Integrity Evaluation Department was created within this Office, with roles such as promoting and executing actions that lead to the strengthening of Integrity and the ethical behaviour of SAT personnel.

c) Creation of a Public-Private Dialogue and Cooperation Forum to address Customs matters, making ethics and Integrity priorities in the Customs-private sector agenda. Within this arena, agreements were reached to implement codes of conduct for all the actors in the foreign trade supply chain. This measure has fostered cooperation and good faith on behalf of all the partners involved in promoting conduct within a transparency framework.

d) Launch in 2018, on behalf of the Tax Administration, of a new Ethics and Conduct Code for SAT personnel, including all actors that take part in foreign trade and based on the recommendations presented by the WCO.

Results of efforts to promote ethics and integrity

a. Implementation and publicizing of the “Report Corruption” Call Centre, as well as the e-mail address for receiving reports:

b. Dissemination of the Code of Ethics and Conduct for SAT personnel, through conferences and online courses about “Ethics and Values in Customs”.

c. Application of reliability testing to SAT personnel, through actions such as analysing Comparative Asset Sworn Declarations to identify risks among employees.

d. Implementation of Integrity evaluations with the purpose of identifying gaps or flaws in procedures and/or processes that could be opportunities for fraud and/or corruption.

e. Implementation of the Anti-Bribery Management System ISO 37001 and an awareness campaign about the dual track of corruption.

By Mayora IP - 29/07/2020
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