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#8 - JRL 7172
Moscow News
May 7-13, 2003
Customs Clearance Becomes Simple
Oksana Karpova

The new Customs Code, to be effective from January 1, 2004, eases customs clearance for individuals as well as businesses. Another enactment reintroduces mandatory use of cash registers by retailers, service providers, and credit organizations

In late April, the State Duma without debate passed a new version of the Customs Code in its third reading. A yes vote had been anticipated because the second reading, to the surprise of experts and the deputies themselves, had lasted just 90 minutes and drawn no objections. The reason is that practically all differences over the bill between the government, the State Customs Committee and the State Duma had been resolved beforehand, said the deputy chairman of the Duma Committee for the Budget and Taxes, Valery Draganov, who was accountable for the bill. It only remained to decide whether to levy import duties on products brought to Russia to be treated and then re-exported under tolling agreements. A consensus was finally reached whereby the new Customs Code would levy no duties on imports and exports involving tolling schemes, on the grounds that such duties could be detrimental to our chemical, textile and food industries. Thus, the new Customs Code has turned out to be a liberal one for Russian businesses in all respects. It has transformed Customs from a controller into an administrator who has to see that all goods get clearance within three instead of 10 days, and that any conflicts with business people are resolved within two to 15 days, with the businessmen concerned to be without fail provided with an oral or written explanation.

Customs rules for Russian citizens crossing the border have also been relaxed. From January 1, 2004, they will be entitled to bring in duty-free goods worth up to 65,000 rubles. Moreover, they may file an appeal with the Supreme Court against any incorrect decision made by Customs.

Another bill passed in its third reading in late April was On the Use of Cash Registers in Making Cash Settlements with Individuals. Previously rejected by the Federation Council, the bill was passed in its third reading a second time. It is supposed to protect the consumer interests of citizens by preventing all businesses and individual entrepreneurs from giving their customers false receipts when taking their cash payments for goods sold or services provided. The use of cash registers will again become obligatory not only for retailers, but also for credit organizations. Whether the latter comply with this regulation will be verified by the Central Bank, not by the taxman.

The bill lists categories of vendors for whom the use of cash registers is not mandatory, such as vendors of ice-cream, newspapers and periodicals, securities, lotteries, tickets for travel on public transport, and also sellers at collective-farm markets and at trading posts without proper facilities. The use of cash registers will not be necessary in remote areas, including rural ones. However, the RF constituent regions may lay down their own trade rules.

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