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Improving Tax and Customs Administration in Guatemala

Four reports diagnosed customs issues in Guatemala between 2014 and 2015. These reports identified five areas of work: (1) refine risk management to inspect the riskiest shipments, (2) provide adequate field personnel in number and skill, (3) create working conditions that reduce incentives for corruption, (4) provide equipment to reduce delays in clearance, and (5) improve internal control mechanisms to detect and redress revenue leakages and corruption. Of these issues, the project addressed risk management, ways to correct under-valued import declarations, and a new strategy to address corruption.

In the Threshold Program, the importance of policy milestones was noted but not required for the release of funds. Despite not being required, the project made progress on five of the six policy milestones. The table notes the level of progress for each policy milestone.

Achievement of Intended Outcomes

The Guatemala Tax and Customs Activity achieved varied results across the 11 activities implemented. Six of the 11 activities implemented achieved medium to high results, and the other five activities implemented achieved low to no results. Progress was made in achieving the objective of the Threshold Program, but the results achieved varied over time. In the case of medium to high results, the Threshold Program specifically mentioned instituting an effective customs post-clearance audit program. More than half of the 88 brokers (61 percent) and 83 percent of the 53 SAT employees interviewed saw positive changes in enhanced fraud detection. For the value database, the implementer reported 740 personnel were trained and informed on the value database with all new recruits trained on it. Similarly, almost half of the 88 brokers (48 percent) interviewed saw a positive change in merchandise classification, with most of the change seen at Express Aéreo at the Guatemala City Airport.

Five of the 11 activities implemented had low results because these activities were either partially implemented, or no significant progress was made. For example, the integrated cargo control plan was designed as a large comprehensive program but was only partially implemented. Part one of the activity took place successfully, with multiple training sessions strengthening customs verification and reviews. However, part two of the activity did not take place because U.S. Customs and Border Protection was unable to assist with further training or mentoring due to the Customs Merchandise Verifiers’ inability to pass a security clearance. SAT has a new anti-corruption strategy and publicity campaign at the three ports. Both brokers and SAT employees stated they saw a positive change from the new policy, but there is no data available on customs investigations showing a change.

Factors Contributing to or Hindering Results

As noted above, the Guatemala Tax and Customs Activity had mixed results. The implementer had a breadth and depth of consultant expertise that included both local and international perspectives. This allowed for the implementer to resolve issues effectively at reasonable costs. MCC’s willingness to provide no-cost extensions allowed the implementer additional time to achieve the project’s objective. However, a number of factors hindered the project in achieving results. These factors included a lack of formal incorporation into SAT’s annual work plan, leading to a lack of SAT personnel on various activities and a lack of private sector focused work. In addition, COVID-19 had an effect in slowing down work in 2020.

Supporting Sustainability

Three factors contributed to the sustainability of the results: (1) an agreement between MCC and SAT on post-implementation indicators to continue to measure results, and (2) a focus on few concrete activities using approaches that are replicable. The longer timeframe enabled not only the achievement of results, but it allowed for a pathway of continued results beyond the timeframe of the project. However, two factors hindered sustainability: (1) a lack of effective transparency and (2) a lack of involvement from the private sector. Transparency and project effectiveness were hindered by the limited circulation of technical reports. A lack of private sector involvement prevented a greater impact on compliance with customs regulations.

Source : MCC