St Helena is soon to introduce the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA). This web based system will improve efficiency and speed in the acceptance and clearance of cargo, tax and other paper transactions. As well as improving and developing Government and statistical information; vital for accurate planning and budgeting.
To install and operate the new system, Government Officers, Jeremy Roberts, Head of Corporate IT and Juliette O’Dean, Customs Administrative Officer recently underwent a programme of training in Geneva.
Delivered by one of the key developers of the ASYCUDA system, Fabian Joseph, the training programme taught Jeremy and Juliette how to use the system and how to then pass their skills on to train colleagues on St Helena. Training was delivered in a dual classroom environment incorporating both Customs and IT systems simultaneously.
As Head of IT Jeremy’s training focused on the technical elements of the ASYCUDA system and with the help of his team at IT he will be supporting the system and maintaining the management of the project here on St Helena. During the duration of the project professional support will also be given from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
“The introduction of the ASYCUDA system to St Helena will allow Customs and Revenue to become more efficient and drive innovation across the whole of the Island. However we must recognise that once it gets rolled out it’s not going to be an instant fix to everything. We are therefore fortunate to have the professional support from our trainer in Geneva who helped to develop the system; any changes made to the software will also be filtered through to St Helena if felt it would work with our system.”
Juliette’s role is a more functional one in that she will manage the day to day operation of the system, trouble shooting and dealing with staff, government and public enquiries. In moving forward Juliette’s first task is to get the system up and running within the Customs and Revenue section and train Customs and Revenue staff to use the system. Next month IT will deliver a live trial version of the system which will allow Juliette to train her staff over the next three months. During this time IT will continue to build the infrastructure needed to operate the system before it is rolled out to the public. Following staff training the Traders and Brokers will then be trained
It is expected that the system will be rolled out within the next six months.
Juliette explained the benefits of the ASYCUDA system:
“Having the ASYCUDA system on St Helena will move us away from a paper based system to an electronic one. This will then enable Customs and Revenue operations to use more streamlined procedures which will not only benefit Customs and Revenue, but the public as well.”
With the new system Customs entries will need to be electronically submitted through ASYCUDA by the importer themselves.
“Everyone will be able to access ASYCUDA via the internet, so customers can pre-clear their goods before collecting from Customs, making the process quicker and more efficient.”
“The system will enable Customs and Revenue procedures to become more bearable. We recognise that it will take time for merchants and brokers to get used to the new procedures and we are not expecting people to know everything within the first two months. However people will need to learn these new procedures as eventually the system will be expanded to the airport site and Rupert’s.
“This is just the first stepping stone which means that in the near future further personnel will need to undergo overseas training or a trainer from the UN will need to visit the Island in order for the system to grow and develop.”
SHG would like to thank Peter Henderson, Director General of HM Customs and Revenue who recommended introducing the system to St Helena, staff at HM Customs for their hard work, DfID for their financial assistance, the UNCTAD team in Geneva and Jeremy and Juliette for undertaking the training to enable the project to be delivered
Notes to Editors:
The ASYCUDA system was funded by the Department for International Development.
The system to be used on St Helena is the most up to date version of the software and was designed by a dedicated team from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
The system can be found in over 100 jurisdictions worldwide but this is the first time for it to be introduced on an Island as remote as St Helena. (NB Montserrat is smaller than St Helena and has the system).
23 September 2013