JIS News

Improvements in operational procedures at the Customs Department have resulted in increased revenue and greater efficiency in processing consignments at the island’s ports, Director of the Information Management Unit (IMU) in the department, Tricia Jones has said.
As the Department gets down to celebrating Customs Week (January 25 – 31), Miss Jones explained to JIS News that a pilot programme using electronic payment, which was carried out between June and July last year, resulted in a doubling of revenues. “When (the pilot) started, we had 20 to 30 importers and we now have more than 70 importers and collections have increased. To date, we have collected more than $300 million using e-payment,” she said.
The modernisation programme, which began in 2000 and officially ended last year, incorporates the use of technology as a key instrument in improving the services offered by Customs.
Lauding the system, Custom Brokers have commented that the new payment arrangements made the clearing process far less tedious, slashing the usual clearing time from two to three days to one to two hours.The IMU Director pointed out that the aim of the modernisation programme was to cut down on the paper work and to eventually have a paperless system.
The improvements have seen more debit card and credit card facilities being used at clearance points and brokers are now able to submit their entries via the Internet.
Miss Jones added that the Department’s electronic processing system was three-tiered, involving the use of electronic manifests; electronic C78X forms, which was a customs entry requirement for clearing goods under US$1,000.00 in value; and the electronic release.
The electronic manifest allows for the submission of a carrier’s manifest (list of cargo) online ahead of the arrival of the vessel. The e-manifest system, which began officially with a pilot project at Berth 11 in 2002, will be rolled out to most sea and airports by the end of the 2003/04 financial year.The C78X is a more efficient entry system than the C79 form, which will eventually be phased out.
An electronic release is generated after the consignment is processed and duties paid and allows the importer to clear goods from the wharf.
Commenting on the development of automation at Customs, Miss Jones said the system was less of a hassle to persons wishing to clear goods and reduced the time spent at the ports.
As such, the Department was working on centralising its manifest system, “so persons won’t have to go all over the place” to clear goods, Miss Jones said. Additionally, she said that an intelligence system was now in place at the Department and was being used to combat tax evasion and illegal importation attempts.
Other initiatives aimed at improving the level of automation at Customs include the introduction of a system to assist returning residents, by the end of the current financial year. This is a web-based system that will be used internally and will connect Kingston with Montego Bay, providing information related to returning residents to help reduce the processing time for clearing their goods.
As part of activities to mark the Week, the Department will be re-launching its website. The event will take place on Saturday, January 31 during the department’s Information Fair on its grounds at Newport East in Kingston.
The fair aims to educate persons on the procedures for clearing goods and will also showcase the services offered by the stakeholders who interact with Customs.
The Department is staging a range of activities under the theme ‘Origin’, an abstraction from the ‘Rules of Origin’ criteria used internationally to determine the ‘nationality’ or origin of a product being traded.

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