EU, Lithuania and Palestine celebrate the achievement of the first ever Twinning Project

Ramallah/PNN/

The European Union, the Customs Department, the State Board Guard Service of Lithuania, the Palestinian Ministry of Finance, and the General Administration of Borders and Crossings celebrated today the end of the Twinning project in Palestine. The project aimed to strengthen the Palestinian Authority’s fiscal position through enhancing customs revenue collection and border management.

Throughout the project, partners from Lithuania and the Palestinian Authority worked together and established modern tools and working methodologies in line with international standards and EU practices to improve Customs duties collected on imported goods and simplify control processes at the borders and crossings.

These achievements came amid the challenging circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, yet they are instrumental for protecting and improving customs revenue that represents an important source of income for Palestine.

The Director-General of the General Administration of Borders & Crossings Nazmi Mhanna thanked the Lithuanian partners, the Palestinian stakeholders, and the European Union for their extensive efforts and support to make this project a success. This project has achieved very important outputs in relation to the models and procedures that were suggested to help in protecting national revenues, facilitating trade, enhancing the efficiency of crossings, in addition to exchanging experiences and knowledge among the various teams.

The General Directorate of Customs, Excises, and VAT Luai Hanash said; we consider the achievements of the twinning project as the starting point for Palestinian Customs to work based on the results and outputs of this project. There were lessons learned in spite of the challenges and difficult circumstances, in particular, the transfer of knowledge and experience remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nevertheless, with the persistence and commitment of the Lithuanian and Palestinian teams, they managed together to achieve the project results and to develop the capacities and functions of the Palestinian customs in relation to post-clearance audit, risk management, customs disputes, combating corruption, and enhancing integrity, in addition to contributing to amendments to the Palestinian Customs Law.

The Deputy Director-General of Customs Department Vygantas Paigozinas emphasized the joint work of the Lithuanian and Palestinian experts, as well as the involvement of the Palestinian Authorities whose decisions may be a critical success factor for the intended changes to take place, were the key elements leading to the long-term impact of the project results. I do believe that everything we did within this Twinning project as well as everything we do while performing our daily duties will be valued by our authorities and most importantly by society as well

The Deputy European Representative Maria Velasco said during the ceremony: “Today’s project is an example of a successful partnership between the EU, an EU Member State, Lithuania, and the Palestinian Authority to support Palestinians in their quest for statehood.

This project was a result of good cooperation and peer-to-peer support among European and Palestinian public administrations. For Palestine, Twinning is a key component to supporting state-building activities, while it is equally important for the EU and the Member States to maintain the viability of the two-State solution.

The results achieved so far are crucial for Palestinians to improve customs revenue, which is essential for meeting the financial obligations of the Palestinian government and achieving growth and development in Palestine”.

The Twinning project ‘Strengthening the Capacity of the Palestinian Authority to Improve Customs Revenue Collection and Border Crossings Control’ started on 19 May 2019 for a duration of 24 months with a total allocated budget of EUR 2 million.

The project was implemented by the Customs Department under the Ministry of Finance of Lithuania and the State Border Guard Service at the Ministry of Interior of Lithuania. The project targeted two Palestinian public administrations, the General Directorate of Customs, Excises, and Value Added Tax under the Ministry of Finance and the General Administration of Borders and Crossings (GABC).

The main objective of the Twinning project was to improve the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) fiscal position through improving the collection of customs revenue and strengthening borders control in order to reduce evasion of customs duties.

This will be achieved through; 1) Enhancing the GABC capacity to conduct effective controls of goods and 2) Strengthening the Palestinian Customs capacity to improve customs collection and implement post-clearance audit procedures in accordance with international standards

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