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Over 1,600 firms already integrated into new Customs Dept. system

More than 1,600 businesses are already integrated into the new customs system, a press release from the Ministry of Finance revealed yesterday.

The roll-out of the new system began in late 2018 with New Providence-based air cargo carriers. Early in 2019, the Customs Department started a pilot test in Eleuthera.

“Now Customs is implementing lessons learned and ensuring internal readiness,” the release notes.

“Over the next few months, the Customs Department will continue the phased roll-out, supported by a public education campaign.

“The system is designed to deliver faster, more efficient and comprehensive customs processing once fully implemented.”

According to the release, the implementation plan for the new system has ten major parts, which includes a “business management portal, an online payment platform, a new system for filing declarations online and a completely integrated system for the online processing of customs-related permits and licenses with other government agencies”.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said this massive undertaking to modernize the Customs Department is long overdue.

“We are still in the early stages of implementation, but when the full system is operational it will significantly improve the speed of doing business, minimize the influence of corruption and bring greater security and transparency to the process of importing and exporting goods in The Bahamas,” Turnquest said.

“Very soon we will formally introduce the public to the new online system, Click2Clear, which we are building into a one-stop shop for all Customs clearance processes. We are very confident that Click2Clear will take Customs into the future and deliver more speed, functionality and efficiency.

“Just one generation ago, Customs was using a completely manual, paper-based system. In the world of technology that is light years away. We have an older digital system right now that is no longer fit for purpose, so we are transitioning to an internationally compatible platform that brings all of Customs’ trade processes together in one convenient online location.”

According to the release, the Customs Department’s new system will allow paperless customs processing; automated entry checking; end-to-end online processing and tracking, with no more need to run around from office to office; tighter controls and risk management to reduce corruption and fraud; more accountability to protect government revenue; and more statistical information for effective policy making.

“We want the full system up and running as soon as possible, but a massive change process cannot be implemented overnight,” said Turnquest.

“This system is going to impact every importer, including individuals who purchase items online, so we plan to take the time to ensure everyone is properly informed. As we bring more of the system online, we will experience more of the benefits.”

Chester Robards

Senior Business Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian.
Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism
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