FEATURE: CCTV cameras boost takings at Khammuan border crossing

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The installation of CCTV cameras at immigration stations on the Lao-Thai border in Khammuan province has helped increase the amount of revenue collected from various taxes and service fees.

Authorities at the immigration station revealed that an additional 11 billion kip was collected from people entering and departing Thakhaek district in Khammuan province to and from Thailand, exceeding the set target.

The monies collected came from taxes and charges levied on gas, oil, vehicles and spare parts, construction materials, electrical items, products for personal consumption, products under contract with Asean countries, personal baggage, and imported and exported items.

Other sources of revenue were fines, the sale of confiscated items, fees charged for the entry and exit of vehicles, and the fees paid  by people entering and leaving Laos. There were also boat fees, fees for the storage of fuel at depots, and fees imposed on foreigners crossing the border.

Head of the international customs station at the Friendship Bridge in Khammuan province, Mr Somvang Somchinda, said “In 2019 the station was assigned to collect 252.7 billion kip and actually collected 264 billion kip. This meant that we exceeded the target by 11 billion kip.”

“This happened because money didn’t go astray and because we have a good system for monitoring the work of our staff.”

“CCTV cameras have been installed in eight strategic locations and are connected to smartphones. CCTV helps a lot in controlling and monitoring the work of our staff and makes them efficient and honest.”

“I think it would be good if all immigration stations in Laos had CCTV cameras. They are certainly a deterrent against corruption and staff can no longer pocket money themselves. It would mean officials at more border crossings could collect the amount of revenue targeted, or even exceed it.”

“But the most important point in ensuring that each station collects the targeted amount of income is that everyone involved listens to their conscience and is honest.”

“This year customs and immigration staff in Khammuan have a target to collect 290 trillion kip, but of course we can’t be sure this will be achieved, for several reasons. Right now the number of vehicles using this border crossing has fallen due to the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak in China and neighbouring countries. But we will try our best to reach the target.”

The Third Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge crosses the Mekong River. The foundation stone was laid on March 6, 2009, and the bridge opened to traffic on November 11, 2011.

The bridge is 1,423 metres long and 13 metres wide.

It is an important border crossing as it connects Laos to Thailand and other countries in the region. It is also an important import and export point.