As Government strives to make doing business in Barbados easier, it is working assiduously to ensure the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) World will soon be implemented.
Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn, said a number of things were being done simultaneously to ensure ASYCUDA World could be introduced by September. He disclosed that preliminary work had been completed on the preparation of the Customs Tariff for 2017.
“Therefore, the next phase now is to have consultations, over the next few weeks, with the various stakeholders to reform the customs classification.
“That classification committee will be restarted with the first mandate to settle the Customs Tariff 2017, and therefore that will give the underlying framework for the implementation of ASYCUDA World. On a parallel track to that, some infrastructural works have been completed and there is now some fine-tuning to be done with respect to the Customs Department,” he explained.
Mr. Straughn added that the classification committee would now, for the first time, include members of the private sector, and it would meet more regularly.
He stated that as the specification for goods change in this dynamic world, the group would have to keep modifying their decisions.
ASYCUDA is a computerized customs management system, which covers most foreign trade procedures. The system handles manifests and customs declarations, as well as accounting, transit and suspense procedures. It generates trade data that may be used for statistical economic analysis. The ASYCUDA software has been developed in Geneva by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
Describing ASYCUDA World as an upgrade of ASYCUDA ++, Minister Straughn said one of its critical benefits was that it “sits in a cloud platform”, thus allowing its deployment to be easily accessible from any computer terminal. In addition, he stated, ASYCUDA World allows for greater document management.
“Barbados was the first in the region to introduce ASYCUDA ++. We are now the only country still using it whilst others have already upgraded. The country has been operating ASYCUDA ++ in an environment where there is no technical support for it, should something go wrong. Therefore, one of the benefits of moving to ASYCUDA World, is not just from a technological standpoint and ease of facilitating business, but if something goes awry, then there is technical support available for the system from UNCTAD.
“The adoption of greater risk management protocols within the ASYCUDA system will allow for greater facilitation of clearance of goods within that space. It will allow us to do a greater level of analysis of the underlying trade data to help improve the business and trade facilitation elements that take place,” he pointed out.
The minister noted that the upgrade to ASYCUDA World would provide the foundation to facilitate the introduction of the Electronic Single Window component, which meant importers, exporters or their agents could apply for licenses online, from the comfort of their homes or businesses, without having to travel around to several different government agencies.
Government agencies would have the ability to approve licenses digitally thereby eliminating paperwork within the system.
In preparation for its move to the Barbados Revenue Authority, under the previous administration, Mr. Straughn said the Customs Department’s Information Technology (IT) section had been migrated to the BRA’s. According to him, that migration created some logistical issues from a business and trade facilitation standpoint.
“With the upgrade to ASYCUDA World, our focus now is to re-establish an IT section within the Customs Department that would manage all of the day-to-day functions of ASYCUDA World, as well as any system obligations that Customs will have to perform,” he said.
A number of persons have already undergone training in ASYCUDA World, and the minister indicated that refresher training would be conducted in the future.
The Customs Department has already advertised for a Comptroller and three deputies, and Minister Straughn is hopeful that those positions would be filled soon.