World Customs Organization Praises Threshold Program

The Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) second (Stage II) threshold program in Paraguay received international recognition last month at the Brussels meeting of the World Customs Organization (WCO). Specifically, Paraguay’s web-based system for imports (referred to by its Spanish acronym, VUI), which was implemented at the Paraguayan Customs Office with support from MCC’s Threshold Program, was recognized and praised in front of 200 country delegates. 

This web-based system was designed, developed and implemented in approximately six months, record time for a process that has taken some countries years to develop, and with less success. This state-of-the–art, innovative technology will increase coordination across government agencies and departments; while five institutions currently participate, the goal is to link all nineteen institutions involved in the importation process to the VUI system, thus providing a high degree of efficiency to the system. The short design and implementation phase, and the proactive approach with participating institutions, reflects the high degree of political commitment on the part of the Government of Paraguay, particularly the Customs Director, to this endeavor. 

At the meeting in Brussels, representatives from Paraguay shared their practical experiences and lessons learned in securing and sustaining the political and administrative will that is required to implement the VUI. The VUI was developed as part of the Threshold Program’s customs component, which aims to strengthen the capacity of the customs office in order to reduce tax evasion and corruption.  Since the government launched the VUI in July 2010, the cost and time required to process import permits from government institutions has been reduced, improving competiveness and transparency in customs operations. 

Erich Kieck, the Director of the Capacity Building Directorate at the WCO said, “Paraguay stood out at the conference as an administration that took advantage of the assistance of the MCC. They followed through and implemented the international trade single window, despite many challenges.  By overcoming these challenges, gaining political support and effectively using their resources, this administration demonstrated how important perseverance can be in reaching a goal. This achievement will result in gains for the Paraguayan government and economy and demonstrates how to move from ideas to actions.”

Paraguay’s Stage II Threshold Program began in 2009 and will complete all activities in April 2012. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is responsible for administering Paraguay’s Threshold Program on MCC’s behalf.  Watch this video to see how MCC and the Government of Paraguay are fighting corruption.