Comptroller of Customs, Owen Holder, has described the draft Customs Bill as a comprehensive piece of legislation, which will create the environment for modern and effective customs operations.
Mr. Holder expressed this view today while making an online presentation to the business community at the opening of the consultation to discuss the draft Customs Bill.
He told those participating via Zoom: “From your perspective, it promotes transparency and predictability, something which has been evidently lacking under the old Act. These two elements are critical to our operations since their existence not only brings clarity and certainty to the planning and operations, but enhances the chances of compliance.
“The updated legislation will give us, the authorities, the capacity to change our processes with the view of streamlining our procedures and reducing clearance time. Significant strides have been made regarding reducing release time of goods through the implementation of ASYCUDA World. However, we want to go further.”
The Customs Department, the Comptroller said, plays a crucial role in revenue collection, pointing out that it collects about 40 per cent of revenue, but has the potential to grow as the processes are modernised.
He noted that outdated customs legislation constrained some types of social and economic activities, restricting those activities that detect cross border movement of illegitimate trade, inhibiting the proper interdiction of illicit and counterfeit goods, and creating non-tariff barriers to processes.
Mr. Holder continued: “Globalisation, the rapid transformation of international trade patterns, and advances in information technology have also compelled us to review and update our legislation and practices to further facilitate trade.
“In this regard, what we have found is that our legislation has become obsolete and fragmented and it does not adhere to the high standards required of the international customs organisations.”
He indicated that his department intended to make every effort to reduce or eliminate barriers to trade; implement the international agreements that support simplified procedures and develop a legal framework that adhered to high international standards.
He pointed out that all of this was being contemplated with the view of enhancing the business community’s competitiveness.
The Comptroller said the draft Bill promoted advances in customs integrity, and he emphasised its importance to his department.
“Implementation of this process will set clear rules that inhibit excessive discretion and provide for unambiguous specifications of customs officers’ authority and obligations,” he explained.
Discussions on the draft Customs Bill will also be held on Thursday, August 20; and Wednesday, August 26; via Zoom.