Roseau, Dominica – January 14, 2009…… The programme of reform at the Customs and Excise Division in Dominica has entered a new phase through a project funded by the Government of Dominica, the European Union and the World Bank and will be executed with assistance from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The reform programme is part of Government’s overall strategy to improve the competitiveness of the trade system in Dominica.
The purpose of this project is to increase the operational capacity of the Customs Administration in Dominica through the introduction of a modern computerised system- ASYCUDA World (UNCTAD Automated System for Customs Data) in order to improve its capacity to: monitor trade flows; enhance Government revenues and Customs controls; formulate economic and fiscal policies and facilitate trade. Presently the Customs and Excise Division has the older ASYCUDA 2.7 version in use.
ASYCUDA is a computer based programme for reforming customs administration. It aims at speeding up customs clearance through the introduction of computerisation and simplification of procedures thus minimizing administrative costs to the business community in particular.
It also aims at increasing customs revenue by ensuring that all goods are declared, that duty/tax calculations are correct and that duty exemptions, preference regimes etc are correctly applied and managed.
The man appointed by the Government to guide the whole process of Customs reform is Mr. Claude Paul, whose appointment took effect in June 2008. In addition a project team has been appointed which includes a project manager, three IT specialists and three experienced customs officers who will serve as functional officers. Office space has been provided and so far equipment costing over $800,000 has been procured. The ASYCUDA component is being funded through a loan from the World Bank.
It is hoped that new ASYCUDA World software will be fully operational at Customs Headquarters at the Woodbridge Bay Port in Roseau by August, 2009 and at the Melville Hall Airport Customs Office, Canefield Customs Office, Ferry Terminal in Roseau, and the Customs Office in Portsmouth by March 2010.
The implementation of the new ASYCUDA World software at the Customs is one part of the overall Customs reform programme. Other components of the reform programme include a review of trade legislation, a human resource management aspect, new job descriptions, career development, new training of officers, a comprehensive assessment of all its systems and processes and the entire management structure. The other components of the reform programme are being financed by the European Union.
Speaking on the reform programme at the Customs, Director of Customs Reform, Mr. Claude Paul said: “ Customs touches the lives of almost every individual in one form or the other and if we have an improved system here at Customs, faster clearance time, less hassle…. of course the reform will also look at the whole question of mindsets and attitudes so we expect at the end of this project to have a Customs Department that is more client focused and more concerned about delivery of its objectives on time and meeting certain standards. And therefore the man on the street should see a difference in how he is treated by Customs whether at the airport, at the port or the Ferry Terminal. We want to see Dominica Customs recognised as a world class organisation.”