Customs and Excise using ICT to make trading easier

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The local customs community says it is making a bold statement of its aspiration to further develop digital solutions and services to make life easier for the trading community, other border agencies and customs officers.

Namibia’s Customs and Excise Department in the Ministry of Finance this week joined the World Customs Organisation (WCO) in celebrating the theme of this year’s International Customs Day, which is “Digital Customs: Progressive Engagement.”

“We strive to further adopt enabling technologies, such as the use of big data, telematics and the cloud, to help increase operational performance, and to facilitate the reinvention and innovation of the way we do business,” said Commissioner of Customs and Excise, Bevan Simataa, during the celebration in the capital on Tuesday.

During the commemoration, Simataa noted that the 2016 International Customs Day heralds the launch of the WCO Year of Digital Customs, a year in which customs administrations, including Namibia Customs and Excise, dedicate to actively showcase and promote the use of information and communication technology (ICT) to collect and safeguard customs duties, to facilitate the seamless flow of goods, people, conveyances, and money, and to secure cross-border trade against crime, including international terrorism.

“Information and communications technology (ICT) has become embedded and profoundly conspicuous and commonplace in today’s customs workplace and best practice. From the use of ICT in office automation to the use of the internet to publish and disseminate information, and the use of automated clearance systems to make declarations, perform risk management, and undertake validation and processing and eventually to issue approvals, ICT has transformed the way that customs and governments operate,” said Simataa.

Simataa noted that to support customs administrations around the world to further adopt digital customs, the WCO developed and continues to develop an all-encompassing portfolio of instruments and applications. “In recent time the WCO undertook a mapping exercise to gain an appreciation of these ICT-related tools and their intended purpose. This mapping exercise goes hand in hand with ongoing work being undertaken by the WCO on the IT Guide for Executives that has been developed as a short handbook, which succinctly addresses key aspects of ICT solution development and deployment for senior-level customs administration officials, as well as officials with direct responsibility for managing ICT projects,” Simataa explained.

He added that the technology landscape is rapidly changing with a number of key trends emerging such as cloud computing, mobile technologies, advanced analytics and information management.

“Each of these technologies affects the role of customs in different ways and provides numerous opportunities to drive connectivity among customs administrations and with trade operations and other border agencies, thereby increasing productivity which leads to greater economic growth,” he said.

Simataa continued that Customs and Excise is now tasked to map out, explore and package its technological requirements in an effort to completely digitize its operations. “Simultaneous with the mapping and packaging exercises, our administration will endeavour to build and mainstream requisite best practices in areas as diverse as strategic leadership, change management, human capital policies and information management,” Simataa added.