Only a few years after the collapse of the USSR, the governments of the newly-formed countries were preoccupied with questions of integration and cooperation.
Different motives led them to this. For some Central Asian countries, this was the main condition for survival, since the economy and industry of the single economic space was practically paralyzed. In Tajikistan, civil war, mass migration and mass unemployment caused the country's active participation in integration processes. Ten years ago, President of Tajikistan Emomali Rakhmon appealed to the Interstate Council on the accession of his country to the agreements on the Customs Union.
The Treaty “On the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space” was signed by the heads of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan in February 1999.
The Customs Union (CU) was created for the sake of removing customs barriers. However, the result was minimal. The movement of citizens and goods still occurs with many difficulties, both technical and subjective. At every point of the border crossing in every country of Central Asia there are reinforced posts of border guards, customs officers, tax police.
The second agreement, signed in October 2000 by the same countries, known as the Customs Five, established the creation of the Eurasian Economic Community to effectively promote the formation of the Customs Union and the common economic space, as well as the implementation of the tasks contained in the CU agreements.
It was EurAsEC that was given the scope of integration, the solution of economic issues, the development of a common foreign economic policy, the harmonization of the common customs tariff, prices and other components of the common market.
The participants of the process have repeatedly stated that the EurAsEC was established in full compliance with the principles of the UN and the norms of international law, and has international legal personality. Accordingly, the EurAsEC was supposed to function on approximately the same principles as the European interstate associations. However, in practice we see a completely different.
Along with the success of Tajikistan, associated with the entry into the top five, there was also a reverse process, and with its close neighbors. Since September 11, 2000, an intergovernmental agreement between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan “On mutual trips of citizens” entered into force. This was justified by the need to protect against the invasion of armed Islamic extremists in the territory of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan by Tajikistan.
From now on, and until now, citizens travel between these countries on the basis of visas issued by diplomatic and consular missions of states. Almost 7 years have passed, but the visa entry has not been canceled, despite the stabilization of the political situation in Tajikistan, and the recent entry of Uzbekistan into the EurAsEC.
Even having received a visa, people are subject to many troubles. Cases of illegal detention of residents of Tajikistan residing in the Samarkand region of Uzbekistan are noted by citizens of two states who have to cross the Tajik-Uzbek border through the Jarteppa customs post. Employees of the Uzbek police, without presenting any reason, are detaining visitors, and in exchange for permission to cross the border, they demand money. The facts of the beating of local residents by Uzbek militiamen are becoming public knowledge.
Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon has repeatedly criticized Uzbekistan for delaying the abolition of the visa regime with his country and Kyrgyzstan. But so far, Uzbekistan has not acceded to four documents, two of which relate to visa-free travel of citizens, and are important for Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
People carrying goods, various materials and equipment are experiencing no less difficulties. High tariffs for the carriage of goods, customs barriers and duties for the passage of vehicles on the territory of individual countries make trade between the countries of the region unprofitable. Passing through customs cordons presents a considerable difficulty, since in almost all countries a large number of documents is required, there is extortion by representatives of the control services of neighboring countries.
Businessmen are most dependent on customs officers, since a system of entrepreneurs evading customs duties has long been established. Customs duties are very high, and in Tajikistan they make up about 23% of the value of the goods, besides, it is necessary to pay internal taxes: sales tax, VAT. Therefore, entrepreneurs prefer to underestimate the cost of imported goods, and pay the state at a minimum, and customs officers in any case need to pay their "share".
Kazakhstani businessmen selling fuels and lubricants claim that customs officers charge $ 70 for each cistern imported to Tajikistan. And not a single product, even carried without any fraud, will not be able to avoid customs bribes.
There are also quite a few technical problems - poor road conditions, extortion on highways and in populated areas, inconsistency in the work of control services at automobile checkpoints.
Meanwhile, customs problems have attracted the attention of international organizations. UNDP experts estimate that strengthening the interaction between the states of the region will bring them substantial political and economic benefits, including GDP growth from 50% to 100%. UNDP recommends that the governments of Central Asian countries improve transport links, harmonize transit, customs and border procedures, and join the WTO. It is also proposed to optimize infrastructure management, establish a regional consortium on water and energy resources, and jointly deal with natural disasters.
Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications of Tajikistan Dzhumahon Zukhurov said at his recent Central Asian Transport Infrastructure of Central Asian Countries in Dushanbe that his country is ready to become a transit one connecting Central and South Asian countries after the construction of transport tunnels has been completed. , bridges across the Amu-Darya, as well as the reconstruction of roads. But a reasonable question was asked by the conference participants: is it worth building roads and creating infrastructure, if the barriers to border crossings are not eliminated and there is no economic integration between the countries? Against this background, the proposal of the International Road Transport Union (IRU) regarding the restoration of the Great Silk Road or, in other words, the New Euro-Asian Transport Initiative of the IRU seems unreal.
But there are many obstacles along the way. The new USAID project on the liberalization of regional trade and customs procedures is aimed at improving the conditions for international, cross-border trade and transit, reducing trade barriers related to transport, transit, border crossing and customs clearance. But how successful this work will be, in which it is necessary to overcome the ambitions and personal preferences of high-ranking officials, the future will show.
Until recently, the political elite of Kyrgyzstan had its own “Purse”, this was the name of the former head of the Customs Inspectorate, a member of the local parliament Malabekov. It is said that the scope of his “business” in the state customs was such that he practically created a state in the state. Myself, deciding what to skip and what not. No laws were written to him. After the "Tulip Revolution" he disappeared. Because the new government has initiated a number of anti-corruption cases. The first person involved was the state customs. And then his trace was gone. After that, rumors of a retaliatory sum that the former head of the customs inspection of the country was going to give to people, so as not to be subject to criminal prosecution, circulated for a long time. Now, the bulk of Kyrgyz oligarchs and corrupt officials live in Turkey. It is said that he is there. For Kyrgyz disgraced politicians, statesmen and businessmen, this is a kind of London, like Russian fugitive politicians and businessmen.
After the “Tulip Revolution”, the country's Customs Inspectorate is shaken by endless scandals. Firstly, the country's public is surprised by the fact that so far no corruption cases have been initiated by the State Customs Inspectorate, despite the fact that the top officials of the state are constantly talking about government corruption and always mention state customs. Secondly, the nicknames of the type "Purse" just are not given. Thirdly, the employees of the Customs Inspectorate themselves actively oppose the investigation and initiation of such cases, calling all this “lawlessness”. Employees of the State Customs Inspectorate appealed to the President, the Prime Minister and the Prosecutor General, in which they protest against the actions of the Deputy Specialized Prosecutor Kuvan Mamakeev. The whole irony of this story is that Mamakeev is himself in the recent past an employee of the State Customs Service. Apparently because he himself worked a lot in this system and knows it from the inside, the current employees of the State Customs Inspectorate actively oppose the investigation in their bodies, reducing everything to personal dislike. In the appeal of the customs officers, this is stated directly and bluntly: “If the prosecutor (Mamakeev - auth. Note) is not in the mood, then the convoy service is called several times a day. Under the threat of arrest, they demand to collect compromising materials on the heads of customs. Many employees are detained for three days in the ITT or placed in the SIZO-1 of Bishkek. However, individual prosecutors, such as Mamakeev Kuvan, turned the fight against corruption into a personal account and a noisy campaign aimed ultimately at their unlawful enrichment. ”
Another controversial news for the country related to the state customs was the appointment of the popular author and performer of songs Bek Borbiyev as the head of the Bishkek-1 customs post of the Severnaya railway customs office. The fact is that Borbiyev actively supported the late Ryspek Akmatbayev during the rallies in front of the Government House, demanding the resignation of the then Prime Minister Felix Kulov. The authorities accused the late Ryspek Akmatbayev of organizing a criminal group and of criminal activity. Then only the former speaker of the parliament, the leader of the opposition Ata-Meken \ Fatherland Party, Omurbek Tekebayev, sharply reacted to his appointment, who said: “We all know that this person spoke here on the square, he supported the crime and demanded the prime minister’s resignation, he personally intimidated my driver. Such people should not be in power. ” Deputy Rashid Tagayev, who previously worked in law enforcement agencies, commented on the appointment diplomatically, "I agree, his appointment is a big mistake, professionals should work in such posts." The only one who defended Bek Borbiyev was the deputy and leader of the Communist Party of Kyrgyzstan, Iskhak Masaliev, comparing the first with the US President Ronald Reagan. Iskhak Masaliev, by the way, the customs officer himself recently commented on this fact: “The public probably didn’t know that Bek Borbiev worked for eight years, first as an ordinary customs officer, then as a senior inspector, worked during the shift, and sang in his spare time. When I was the chairman of the revenue committee, I saw that he was working perfectly flawlessly. Actor Ronald Reagan was the president of the United States, and here the singer was appointed the head of the post. I do not see any problems with this appointment. And the result of personnel policy will be shown by time, now it is time for trial and testing. ”
Namely, the personnel policy at the state customs becomes the object of criticism from the public and business circles. According to a study by the World Bank’s office in Kyrgyzstan, the State Customs Inspectorate is one of the most corrupt government structures. Many complaints from business structures are also caused by unreasonably high customs duties and fees. “They cause a misunderstanding of the size of the established rates of customs duties on commodity items, which include imported raw materials and materials not produced in the republic. For example, Bishkeksut OJSC uses mashed potatoes and juice concentrates of foreign producers for the production of finished juice products of exotic tastes, since both domestic producers and producers of the CIS countries do not produce these raw materials. 90% of the finished juice product produced is exported, ensuring the integration of Kyrgyzstan into the world economy and the inflow of foreign currency. However, the high quality of products implies a high cost of the final product, which significantly increases the customs costs that make the products not competitive. The company has repeatedly appealed to various government agencies with a request to consider the possibility of abolishing customs duties levied on imported raw materials that are not produced in the republic. However, this issue did not find a positive solution, the customs rates in the draft Law “On Customs Tariff for 2007” are left unchanged, ”said Margarita Rumyantseva, Director General of Bishkeksut JSC, member of the Directors Guild at a meeting with business community of Kyrgyzstan.
The most remarkable thing is that all these years, the State Customs Inspectorate gave completely different data on the volume of trade with neighboring countries than it actually is. According to their data, which they provided, completely different numbers came out. Maybe that's why service in the State Customs Inspection in Kyrgyzstan is so popular. With a salary of $ 100- $ 150, you can safely build a mansion for a couple of months or buy a jeep worth over ten thousand "greens". You just have to, as one customs officer put it on the right of anonymity, close your eyes for a few minutes. Saw nothing, know nothing, heard nothing. It got to the point that if your son works in customs, then he “made his way into the people”. So now they say in the people. In the meantime, the State Customs Inspectorate reports on the successful collection of customs duties. For the first quarter of 2006, customs duties in Kyrgyzstan exceeded the forecast figures of the Ministry of Economy and Finance of the republic almost one and a half times. A significant share in these revenues is occupied by a single rate of state customs duties.