(Extracted from Business Suite Online – May 2016)
Michelle Chong, president of the JEA and also CEO of food manufacturer Honey Bun says she believes local importers and exporters will soon observe benefits from the new Automated System for Customs Data, (ASYCUDA World), being implemented by the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA).
“I believe ASYCUDA will be good for Jamaican exporters and importers. The system is integrated Internationally, and will allow for a ‘single window’ where the exporter/importer only fills in one online document which can be received by all the other relevant customs departments,” she said, pointing to the most obvious benefits.
She, however, cautioned that there would be a period of adjustment.
The Exporters Association has over 200 members who will be encountering the changes under the new system at customs which went live on April 1.
ASYCUDA is a web-based application that allows clients of the JCA, including Customs Brokers & Shipping Agents, to undertake e-transactions such as the submission of manifests, declarations, payments, and documents. E-notifications can be sent to traders at various stages of the process; this allows traders to keep abreast of their transactions.
ASYCUDA provides for Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) between traders and Customs using EDIFACT (Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport) rules.
Jamaica customs, which collects billions in duties each year, is hoping to improve collections with the new system which will replace most paper intensive Customs formalities with online procedures.
ASYCUDA was developed by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), with ASYCUDA World being the most recent version of the software. The project is funded by the Government of Jamaica and the Inter-American Development Bank.
UNCTAD describes the system as a computerised customs management system which covers most foreign trade procedures. The system handles manifests and customs declarations, accounting procedures, and transit and suspense procedures.
ASYCUDA also generates trade data that can be used for statistical economic analysis.
The new system takes into account the international codes and standards developed by ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation), WCO (World Customs Organization) and the United Nations, UNCTAD states on its website.
IT also notes that ASYCUDA can be configured to suit the national characteristics of individual Customs regimes, National Tariff, and legislation
ASYCUDA, where used globally, has already completely dematerialized the processing of manifests and declarations and their attached documents (they are not lodged to Customs services but they are scanned and attached to the declarations sent electronically).
Chong says she believes that ASYCUDA will “allow for online payment and it will reduce the inconsistencies that exist in tax calculations. Further to this it will allow for real-time statistical data collection. However, as with most changes, we must be mindful that there will be a period of adjustment.”
Jamaica Customs, CEO/Commissioner of Customs Major (Ret’d) Richard Reese has said that "ASYCUDA World has so far benefitted several clients who indicated they have seen savings in their administrative costs.”
The Jamaica Customs department indicated that, among other benefits, ASYCUDA World will serve to simplify and standardise procedures for customers, reduce waiting time, provide more accurate and consistent tax calculations, and address revenue leakage through enhanced system controls and accountability.
The Ministry of Finance and Public Service (MOFP), says to date, in excess of 7,000 declarations have been processed and released from 12 clearance offices of the JCA.
The MOFP claims that the automated environment has resulted in significant benefits to clients, noting that some clients engaged in courier services, for instance, have reported that they have seen “real financial benefits”, as a result of using ASYCUDA World.
“These reports are encouraging and are indicative that the JCA's commitment to offering world-class service is yielding positive results, particularly with the implementation of ASYCUDA World,” the MOFP quoted CEO/Commissioner of Customs, Major Richard Reese.