New pilot system at customs by February
...expected to boost revenue by 10-20% on higher tax compliance
THE Jamaica Customs Agency plans to start using a new computer system and software at the Kingston port next February.
That's two months later than the date proposed as a condition under the latest International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreement.
But the system, which will be rolled out over a 24-month period at a cost of US$2.5 million ($280 million), aims to dramatically reduce the time it takes to clear goods. It is also expected to improve customs revenue; increase tax compliance at the port; and cut administration costs.
Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA), as the computerised system is called, uses a single window for all customs activities. That should make clearance at customs much faster.
The system also "automatically calculates taxes, adjusts to special tax rates and trade agreements and supports the uploading of additional documents such as trade licences", according to Jaime Mendoza, ASYCUDA regional advisor.
Peter Phillips reckons that feature will help boost revenue "anywhere from 10 to 20 per cent" just from improved compliance alone, given the success experienced in other jurisdictions where ASYCUDA has been implemented.
"The simplification of the process and the reduction in processing time is essential to Jamaica's productivity," said Phillips. "Our capacity to compete as a country is dependent on our ability to meet global development timelines."
So far, the system which was developed by a UN trade body, is already being used in 24 countries in Latin American and the Caribbean and in over 60 more countries elsewhere in the world.
ASYCUDA World offers an enhanced e-mail platform, which supports attachments, enabling customs to attach the declaration and forward it to another user for further action.
It also enables faster processing of declarations by enabling customs to immediately start processing a declaration as soon as a payment is registered at the bank without the need to wait for submission of the physical documents.
The single window, web-enabled system enables traders to submit declarations online from anywhere in the world, and lets them monitor the status of their declarations from anywhere as long as they have Internet connectivity.