‘All to gain from customs reforms’


Mr Tricoli addressing delegates at the launch of the workshop yesterday

Legal consultant Dante Tricoli – who is leading the customs reforms team – said this yesterday when partners started a week-long training session at the Wharf hotel which is hoped to help them push the process further forward.

“It is not only the local business community that has to deal with customs that will benefit, but also the global trade partners,” said Mr Tricoli, who has 30 years experience in the field, having worked with the Italian, the UK, the European Union customs as well as with the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations.

Mr Tricoli has also worked in Afghanistan, Albania, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, France, Georgia, Italy, Jersey, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, UAE and Ukraine, and said he is proud to add Seychelles to the list of countries.

He said at the moment Seychelles is using an outdated definition of what “value” entails, based on a 1955 Brussels agreement.

“That agreement says that the value on which businesses are taxed is fixed by public authorities but with the new method of customs valuation we are aiming at, businesses will be taxed according to the real amount of business carried out,” he said.

“This will be much more fair for the businesses and also for the country’s budget,” he said, adding the team will have to also determine “origin” and how that will in future impact on customs charges.

“Seychelles is now trying to align its definition of “value” and “origin” with the rest of the world,” said the man who has been advising governments and top officials while giving them technical help and guidance in drafting legal instruments covering all areas of responsibility, including tax, customs, trade and efforts to attain compliance with international standards and best practice.

He said at the end of the reforms, Seychelles customs will match those of nations with developed economies rather that “those with developing economies – which will really be commendable”.

Assistant commissioner for customs Selwyn Knowles said besides reforms in the valuation of goods, and rules of origin, his section also hopes to set up a valuation data base and develop a valuation manual to help customs officers value goods in line with WTO agreements.

Over 25 customs official have already been trained by three consultants involved in the ongoing workshop in some of the aspects they are dealing with, he said.

Besides customs officials, those involved in the workshop are officials from the Ministry of Finance Trade and Investment including representatives of the Seychelles Revenue Commission, staff of the Compliance Unit, major importers, clearing agents, Ministry of Health staff, representatives of the Seychelles Agricultural Agency and of the attorney general’s chambers.