The government will unveil information on the original prices of imported goods and how they pass through retailers so that customers can better understand the pricing policies, according to the Korea Customs Service.
The authorities are also considering various deregulatory measures so that customs services can begin to contribute to the economy.
These and other plans are a part of a government blueprint called “Government 3.0,” aimed at widening government access to administrative data that can help improve people’s daily lives.
President Park Geun-hye has laid down the agenda in an aim to hit multiple administrative goals including creating a more transparent government and bolstering economic growth.
“We will push innovation that can work for both ordinary people and business people. We also will come up with success stories about Government 3.0 to help spread the word … about this new campaign,” Korea Customs Service Commissioner Baek Un-chan said at a recent advisory meeting.
“The essence of Government 3.0 is to provide a practical customs administrative service to each and every member of the population, and to communicate with them by sharing more ideas and information,” Baek said. “I ask all 4,600 customs officials to work to embed Government 3.0 culture into our organization.”
The Korea Customs Service placed first out of all government departments for being the most successful in fulfilling Government 3.0-related tasks in 2013. Its biggest achievement was sharing information on taxes and tariffs with other administrative agencies.
The customs authority will now work to deliver on its 10 additional goals for this year.
Open information and job creation
Among those goals, the customs office is expected to step up efforts to publicize the price of imported goods before they face tariffs. How they are priced at the retail level also will be made public.
This way, customers would be able to understand how importers and retailers were pricing the goods, the customs office said.
The authorities earlier announced that this would simplify the customs process for individual customers purchasing garments, shoes, toilet paper, kitchen goods, published materials and lighting products from overseas stores. It would also help people buy products from overseas at lower prices, the authorities said.
The Korea Customs Service has also signed up with the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the National Tax Service and others to share information about customs and tariffs that may undermine the public interest.
The pricing and importation of agricultural and fishery products and medical goods will be closely monitored and information will be shared with government agencies to eliminate the possibility of customers being overcharged.
Duty-free cigarettes, which are about 60 percent cheaper than those sold in the market, will also be watched more closely to prevent smuggling.
On a different note, the Korea Customs Service is also working to create more jobs by establishing a training program for fostering expert consultants.
“Although Korea has signed free trade agreements with several countries, small to mid-size companies are not yet benefiting from them,” a customs office official said. “To take full advantage of the FTA, we need people to consult with at each step of the way, and this is why we are training consultants who can help these smaller firms understand and utilize the free trade agreements.”
In 2013 alone, a total of 8,845 consultants were trained through such efforts.
The KCS also offers tariff benefits to companies that hire disabled people to help promote disability employment.
“The government will step up efforts to achieve Government 3.0 and the Korea Customs Service will hopefully once again be at the forefront of the campaign,“ Baek said.
By Bae Ji-sook (firstname.lastname@example.org)