New GRA system could reduce paperwork time

Georgetown, GINA, January 9, 2017

The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has begun a study that will lead to the adaptation of the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA). Today, the study began with a presentation to wharf owners, shipping agents and customs brokers. It was held at the Guyana Revenue Authority’s Headquarters on Camp Street Georgetown.

Head of the Customs Trade Administration Lancelot Wills delivering opening remarks at the launch of the feasibility study to implement the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYSCUDA)

Delivering opening remarks, the Head of Customs and Trade Administration, Lancelot Wills, informed participants that the new system will eventually result in enhanced trade, a paperless environment, implementation of international best practices and increased efficiency.

Wills explained that as the last English speaking country in the region to adapt the system, the GRA would be able to build on the experiences of others. The new system would be tailored to local needs and shorten the time take to expedite goods, he added.

The presentation was conducted by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNTAD) Consultant, Terrence Leonard and Information Technology Specialist, Fabian Joseph.

Leonard, a former St. Lucian Customs Comptroller, informed of the benefits such as better risk management particularly of high–risk cargo, systems to target the ‘bad guys despite them being the minority’ and better efficiency.

Leonard also made reference to the need for the GRA to follow its international counterparts by working smarter and not necessarily harder.

UNTAD Consultant Terrence Leonard addressing stakeholders at the launch of the feasibility study to implement the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYSCUDA)

He cited one example where it takes about seven days to process and clear a shipping container. Leonard said that in many cases the time was reduced  to one day.

For customers, E- payments could also be used and documents processed immediately, once verified.

UNTAD IT Specialist, Fabian Joseph, during his presentation, outlined how the ASYCUDA system will enable key sections of the GRA to be linked in real time, leading to better information sharing and better efficiency for processing documents.

Joseph said that linking the systems would result in a single platform thereby enabling better border management, capacity building, better management of government finances as remitted from the GRA and, overall faster processing of imported and exported goods and services.

The GRA will also be linked with relevant ministries including Finance, Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, and entities such as the Bank of Guyana and the Bureau of Statistics and any other which are deemed necessary to access information from the GRA.

Stakeholders at the launch of the feasibility study to implement the Automated System for Customs Data

The AYSCUDA system was created and launched in 1981 to assist countries by strengthening customs administrations. Implemented in three countries initially, the system is now used by many Caribbean, Central and South American, North America, Asian, Europe and Middle East countries. Grenada was the last country to implement it in the Caribbean.

The United Nations funded initiative is being facilitated at a minimal cost since only the purchasing of software and training of technical staff is needed.

The feasibility study that is being funded by the UN, will garner information and feedback from the Private Sector Commission, the Information Technology and legal staff of the GRA over the next week. It will conclude on January 19 with a presentation to the GRA’s top officials on a proposal to move forward with its implementation.

UNTAD was launched in 1964 to promote sustainable development and greater integration of developing economies.

 

By: Paul McAdam

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