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Story Highlights

  • The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) is now in its pilot phase of the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA), a web-based system designed to transform the agency to a paperless operation.
  • The pilot commenced in December 2014 and will run for a few months, after which it will be evaluated before a full roll-out.
  • Chief Executive Officer of the JCA, Major Richard Reese, says the pilot will focus on exports from the Kingston port.

The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) is now in its pilot phase of the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA), a web-based system designed to transform the agency to a paperless operation through the use of electronic documents.

The pilot commenced in December 2014 and will run for a few months, after which it will be evaluated before a full roll-out.

Chief Executive Officer of the JCA, Major Richard Reese, says the pilot will focus on exports from the Kingston port.

“The export pilot is for about 2-3 months. We will then do adjustments to the system, and then having done those adjustments, we will then seek to pilot the import module. Once we have completed the pilot activities, then we will go live with both import and export modules,” Major Reese tells JIS News.

He says approximately 174 brokers, importers and staff have already been trained in preparation for the pilot phase of the system.

“We have selected 10 exporters to participate. There are also custom brokers who will be participating, and of course we have our export stations,” Major Reese notes.

He informs that as part of the pilot, the JCA will also introduce its electronic single administration document.

“This is the electronic document that will replace our regular entry, and one will recognize that the entry has several copies, so being paperless it will save on that,” Major Reese adds.

The system will allow traders/agents doing business with the JCA to submit their declarations for clearance of goods from anywhere using the internet.

The ASYCUDA World system will also have the capability to interface with other government and non-government Information Technology (IT) Systems, making all applications for permits and licences electronic.

Major Reese explains that this will result in a reduction in clearance time. He is encouraging voluntary compliance, “because we’d be better able to post audit companies, because of the integrated database.”

Additionally, the system will have a breach database which Major Reese says will identify anyone with previous breaches and aid in a targeted approach to compliance and enforcement.

“It will also improve our client relations, it will support predictability and greater transparency,” he adds.

Meanwhile, the JCA boss says that while ease of trade is being facilitated, the agency is expected to see an increase in revenue when the ASYCUDA World system is fully implemented.

“It is expected to increase our revenue by approximately 20 per cent and reduce our administrative cost by approximately 10 per cent,” he explains.

He informs that this will also provide the agency with real time data on revenue, eliminating filing of reports to the Ministry of Finance, which will have access to the data.

Major Reese further notes that the JCA will address the issues of staff deployment that may arise by re-assigning, recruiting and training additional staff to fill new areas.

He says the agency’s cost of operations is within international standards and the JCA is operating efficiently with its human resources, but there are gaps that need to be filled.

“This is especially so in areas of inspection, in terms of our (Board of Protection), with the contraband enforcement teams, and our sufferante wharf operations,” Major Reese informs.

“So many entities right size, downsize and then later have to re-hire when they have lost their institutional memory. It is our intention to ensure that we re-align while we improve our business processes,” he says.

The ASYCUDA World system will gradually be available to all JCA offices on a phased basis. However, Major Reese informs that by December 2016, it will be available for imports at the port of Montego Bay, other ports and the international airports.

On September 2, the House of Representatives approved amendments to the Customs Act to facilitate the use of the new electronic system at Customs.

Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, said this was important because the Jamaica Customs is burdened by complicated bureaucratic procedures, which involve the use of paper and paper records, adding that this has a negative effect on the efficiency of the operations of the organization.

“ASYCUDA World, which is the latest version of ASYCUDA, offers advanced technological features, such as inter-operability, a user friendly interface and document workflow manageability,” the Minister said.

The system is being implemented from a loan with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) at a cost of US$4 million.

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