The Customs Department stands ready to assist any of its stakeholders who are experiencing challenges with the recently implemented ASYCUDA World system.
This assurance came from Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn, who said the department was working to address some post implementation technical issues.
Speaking at a press conference at Government Headquarters on Thursday, Mr. Straughn indicated that the project team of the Customs Department would continue to support the stakeholders.
“The Customs Department has done a lot of work over the last few months, and certainly in the run up to September, supported by the Barbados Revenue Authority and the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology, in readying itself to be able to help facilitate business….
“As we go through this modernization of Customs, the upgrade to ASYCUDA World is critical to Barbados’ competitiveness. We do not want people waiting in the port for…Customs to process goods for any extended period of time, unless there is a particular reason, based on the risk management protocols that are established,” he stated.
ASYCUDA World was to have been rolled out since 2014, and Mr. Straughn said that because of the many delays, it seemed many persons did not believe it would be introduced this time around.
“And I accept that the week’s postponement from September 1 to 9 might have given persons the impression that ‘here we go again’, and it is not going to happen. Unfortunately, it meant that persons were not as prepared as they ought to have been, in terms of the reengagement of the system,” he explained.
He assured non-commercial individuals, namely those individuals who would have to clear barrels from time to time, that the new system would not affect them, as was being suggested in a social media circular.
“The technical specifications and all of that relates to the various stakeholders. So, whoever is your customs broker or whoever you ship with, these are the persons who are required to engage the ASYCUDA World system on your behalf, so you can feel the benefits with respect to clearing your items from the port,” the Minister insisted.
Comptroller of Customs, Owen Holder, who has overseen the implementation of ASYCUDA World in several countries, said his department was working with the various stakeholders, and some issues had already been solved and others were engaging their attention.
Mr. Holder continued: “I am very familiar with implementing these systems. I understand the teething issues that will develop and…from what we are seeing here in Barbados currently, I can say this is a normal process of implementing the system.
“I wish to assure the public that within probably a week’s time, it would definitely settle down….
So, just give us some time. I am sure that we will be able to sort out the issues that are there…. The advantages that you would get from implementing ASYCUDA World are numerous, and you would see a major change in how things are done.”
He stressed that a consultant with the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development was working with Customs to iron out challenges. He urged those persons who had not yet collected their new passwords to access AYCUDA World, to do so immediately.
In addition, the Comptroller stated that boat agents should contact their IT persons to ensure they were following the correct XML format, so they could be uploaded in the system.
He also reminded stakeholders that the Java version must be 8.15. Mr. Holder gave the assurance that the Customs Department was willing to work with all stakeholders.
“We are here to solve problems, facilitate trade and ensure we bring Barbados back to the point where we can be proud of the economic growth within the country,” he stated.