Dominicans can expect more efficiency in commerce as it relates to exports and imports by June 2015.
In June of 2014, the Government of Dominica signed an agreement for technical expertise with the International Financial Corporation to simplify trade procedures and to increase efficiency in clearing goods at the port, hence the trade logistics project.
The IFC, the private sector development arm of the World Bank Group, promotes sustainable private sector investment in developing countries by helping to improve people’s lives.
A team of IFC representatives are currently on island to evaluate firsthand the progress of the project.
Lazar Ristic, Trade Logistics Specialist with the World Bank Group describes the anticipated outcome of the project.
“As of June/July, no longer will importers have to go to each agency to submit documents separately. simply by lodging their declaration in ASYCUDA, all the data will be disseminated to the relevant agencies and clearance will be done by a single system. It will be processed and approved in a much more analytical and efficient way. TI is currently being done by reviewing books, in the future, all of these reviews and statistical analyses will be done by their internal IT systems.”
The Dominica Bureau of Standards; Plant Protection and Quarantine Unit; the Veterinary Health, Produce Chemist and Environmental Health Departments, and Fisheries Division will be fully automated to allow for their systems to interface with Customs’.
The Bureau of Standards is the first to be fully automated and will interface primarily with the Customs and Excise Department via ASYCUDA World.
Ernie Boland, IT Programmer with the Customs & Excise Division explained, “ASYCUDA World is the automated system for Customs data. It’s software used to capture and calculate duties for Customs and to interface with other third-party software. When we fist implemented it, it did not have the capability to interface with other software but we made a lot of changes to it and we’re now using web service to communicate with the other third-party software.”
The two agencies began live data exchange in January this year. Technical Assistant at the Bureau of Standards, Taft Burnette describes how this development will facilitate brokers and other users of the system.
“We had a few stakeholder sensitization meetings with our brokers and importers to inform them of the changeover. They will not have to physically come into the Port office to process any entries. The new process entails that they do all their processes online.”
Burnette listed the benefits as reduced transaction time and improved efficiency.
He also said, “The software has eliminated the use of the application for Consignment Inspection Form which was basically the main document used to determine whether Bureau of Standards inspections were necessary.”
Operations Officer at the IFC, Alicia Stephens, says improving trade is a plus for the private sector.
“I’m sure you can appreciate that everyday a good is delayed at the border is a day that it cannot be on the shelf and that [upgrade] really breaks down the cost of any red tape that the importer would face at the border.”
The project is funded by the Australian Government in the amount US $1.4m for implementation across the OECS region.