Business Forum of AmCham Albania with the General Director of Customs, Ms. Belinda Ikonomi

Business Forum of AmCham Albania with the General Director of Customs, Ms. Belinda Ikonomi

The annual meeting of AmCham Albania and its members with the General Director of Customs is by now a valuable tradition for both institutions. This year continues the tradition and AmCham welcomes the constructive dialogue and the initiatives of the new Customs Director, Ms. Belinda Ikonomi. The Customs organization was represented by several high-level officials, including the Directors responsible for multiple areas and the Heads of Customs for Tirana and Durrës, so that each issue or question could be addressed by the person most knowledgeable in that area.

In his opening words, Mr. Mark Crawford, President of AmCham welcomed the members and the representatives of the Customs Directorate, emphasizing the importance of these meetings for AmCham members and the important role these meetings play in the dialogue between the two institutions. Ms. Ikonomi spoke about recent improvements in the services of the Customs organization and introduced changes they are working on, including here the new Customs Code to be adopted this year. While highlighting opportunities that save business time and effort, like Local Clearance or completing customs declarations online, the General Director reconfirmed the commitment of the organization to the quality of service it offers economic operators.

The meeting continued with a summary of issues that various members have brought to the Tax and Legal Committee, presented by the head of this committee, Ms. Alketa Uruçi, who specially thanked Director Ikonomi for the importance that she and her staff placed on this meeting. One important concern of AmCham members is related to the application of reference prices, from which “arise two specific problems. First, the business feels the constraint in operating capital by having to pay larger sums both for the customs tariffs and VAT. Second, the Tax Directorate does not recognize the extra VAT paid as a result of the reference price as reimbursable.” Another related problem is that the reasons for the decision to apply a reference price instead of the transaction price are often not communicated to the business. Another concern related to a posteriori inspections and the resultant reevaluation of customs duty, in some cases of which the business had simply been notified of the value which would be deducted from their current account with Customs, without specific information as to how the decision was reached. In such cases, it is difficult for the business to appeal the decision or even to go to the courts and defend their rights. The customs director answered that providing official notification and explanation for such decision is an obligation for customs officials and the administration would follow up all such cases to address the causes.

After these and other issues presented by Ms. Uruçi were answered by Ms. Ikonomi, Deputy Director Mirela Meko, and other directors of each relevant directorate, the meeting continued with an open session of questions and answers where business representatives could express their individual issues and concerns and receive specific answers or arrange for follow-up with specific information and recommendations. In conclusion, AmCham and the Customs Directorate confirmed plans to continue working together to help businesses be better informed and to take advantage of the services offered by Customs.

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