(L-R) Financial Secretary John Skerritt, Chief Minister Reuben Meade, and Director General of MCRS Peter Henderson at the launch of the ASYCUDA World system at the Port Authority on Monday, November 29, 2010. (GIU Photo)
BRADES, Montserrat (GIU) — The Montserrat Customs and Revenue Service (MCRS) on Monday launched the ASYCUDA World system, which will improve the efficiency of the customs procedures and enable brokers and shippers to process their paperwork online.
Director General of the MCRS Peter Henderson thanked the UNCTAD Team and especially Regional Consultant Terrence Leonard for their technical assistance in bringing the project to this stage. ASYCUDA World is a product of the UN group and is used in 90 nations around the world, including 12 in the Caribbean.
Henderson said the introduction of the new system will “provide a more user-friendly service to everyone in Montserrat; assist the government in planning and financial efficiencies; and will help the Customs department to improve its service” to the public as well as “contribute to the development of the economy.”
Chief Minister Reuben Meade added his appreciation to the Ministry of Economic & Trade, Ministry of Finance and the Department for Information Technology and eGovernment Services (DITES), without whom the project would not have been ready for launch.
The chief minister said as a nation we should “be willing to adapt and accept new technologies which can improve our efficiency and delivery of service.” He especially encouraged the customs officers to commit to offering the best service to the public and to utilize the software to accomplish this.
“I would like to commend MCRS and the staff for being the first department to accomplish one of this government’s goals of providing a more Green Government and utilizing information technology to serve the public. This will not be the last of the innovations to better improve the efficiency of government services,” Meade said at the launch.
Last Monday, Yannick Goujon and Fabrice Miller, two senior UN officials with the ASYCUDA World project visited Montserrat to assess its readiness. Yannick Goujon, ASAYCUDA Regional Coordinator for the Americas said they were pleased with all the island had accomplished since the project began in early 2010 and the way in which all of the various agencies came together to assist the customs department in preparing for the launch.
ASYCUDA World is provided free of cost by the UNCTAD. However, the Finance Department and Ministry of Trade supported the financial resources to cover the commercial licenses and hardware needed to operate the system locally.
Fabrice Millet, ASYCUDA Senior Programme Coordinator said ASYCUDA is a technical assistance programme which provides an opportunity for better regional integration. Outgoing Secretary General of CARICOM Edwin Carrington had requested UNCTAD’s assistance to work on unifying and enabling better trade facilitation in the region.
“ASYCUDA is about creating conditions for trade to be more efficient and competitive,” Millet said last week.
All of the officials commended the hard work and diligence of Senior Customs Officer Glenville Daley, who has been the Project Manager for the implementation of ASYCUDA World on Montserrat. Daley provided a PowerPoint presentation of the simple procedures that brokers and shipping agents will have to use to process their cargo.
“Most of the paperwork can be done before the shipment arrives on island, and with this in mind, by the time the cargo is cleared, the usual long lines and paperwork have already been completed,” he explained.
The Customs department has a three tier processing system, with a target of one hour to clear Green lane items, two hours for Yellow lane and a maximum of three hours for completing transactions to clear goods in a Red lane.
Individuals needing to clear small shipments without the assistance of a broker can utilize the kiosk which is now available at the Customs Department at the port. It will also now be possible to make payments at the port rather than having to go to Brades before being able to clear goods.