Amidst the turmoil surrounding the Click2Clear digital platform, the Bahamas Customs and Excise Department issued a press statement suggesting brokers who are finding the system “labor intensive” likely have a “steeper digital learning curve” and should attend training sessions that will be offered next year.
“Some brokers are finding the system to be more labor intensive because they have a steeper digital learning curve and may not have sufficient training,” the statement said.
“The system does require more information and a high level of accuracy, but customs brokers who took advantage of the free training sessions and were already computer savvy are performing better than others. While there have been some technical issues along the way, some of the hiccups are resulting from human error or a lack of familiarity with customs procedures.”
Comptroller of Customs Dr. Geannine Moss said in the statement that there are many more people who are having success with the system than those who are not.
“Everyone is on a learning curve, but not everyone is taking responsibility for their level of proficiency,” Moss said.
“What is not being said or acknowledged is that many brokers are not up to the level of proficiency that they ought to be. They may be using manual releases or hiding the fact that they are overwhelmed or not technologically savvy. Some are failing to communicate to managers or business owners that their IT system is not up to the level it ought to be. In fairness, customs is being blamed for many issues that sit squarely at the feet of brokers and businesses.
“We find it very unfortunate that a few vocal clients are drowning out the sentiments of the majority of users for whom the Click2Clear system is working. We have had growing pains, but we are working through technical issues in an aggressive and proactive way. We welcome the criticism. We just want it to be constructive, true and fair.”
According to customs, it has trained 430 couriers and brokers in Nassau and hundreds of others involved in the industry across the country.
The press statement quotes Suzanne Watson, the in-house broker for automotive, household, hardware and industrial retailer AID, about her experience with the Click2Clear system. She contends that those who did not do the early training “did themselves a disservice”.
She added: “Turnout was not as great as I think customs wanted it to be. Many of the complaints are a matter of training for the end user. It is a different technology and it requires more information, so it is important for brokers to be trained in the system.
“Once I got over the learning curve, it was smooth. At first our issue was with the size of the declarations, because ours have 700-800 lines. However, now we have no issues with that. I attended multiple broker classes in July and August for the hands-on training and that was very helpful for me. Customs even offered to do in-house training at our offices. Plus, we had help from Crimson Logic, the software development company; Superintendent Hudson and Chief Customs Officer Albury from the customs IT team.”
Licensed broker with A&S Customs Brokerage Services Antoinette Higgs said people should not blame customs for their problems with the new system, given that there were many opportunities to learn the system before it came into effect.
“For a lot of the sessions, the classrooms were empty,” said Higgs.
“People were not taking the new system seriously and a lot of brokers did not take advantage of the opportunities to learn.
“There are people who are blaming the system when in truth, many brokers are simply taking on work that they cannot handle. It is easier to lie on customs than to admit that. I don’t mind saying it publicly because it is the truth.”