Kampala — Uganda Revenue Authority Customs Department is expected today (26th November) to pilot ASYCUDA World, an upgrade of the current ASYCUDA++, at the Jinja Customs Office.
ASYCUDA (abbreviation for Automated System for Customs Data) is software developed by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) for automating the customs clearance process. ASYCUDA is internationally acclaimed software and is in use in over 80 countries worldwide and over 30 countries in Africa.
The initiative aims at improving customs services by leveraging the capabilities offered by current trends in technology and a professional and service oriented customs staff, Joseph Mwangala the Customs Business Systems Enhancement Project Manager has said.
A three months testing of the software will be carried out during the pilot. Thereafter, the system will be rolled out to cover all customs stations in phases beginning March 2013.
It is the latest and enhanced version of ASYCUDA++ with the following features that will go a long way in improving the clearance process.
It will have a Web-Based Customs ICT system thus offering 24/7 online access to custom services, supports paper-less declaration processing via use of scanned documents and it will also support the automation of all customs processes.
The current software ASYCUDA++ is not web based and one cannot access it from anywhere.
Also, one needs ASYCUDA installed on his/her computer before accessing. It can best be used on computers with windows XP and lower versions.
"Importers and clearing agents can now look forward to having their goods cleared in the shortest time possible as long as there are no queries," says Joseph Mwangala the Customs Business Systems Enhancement Project Manager has said.
Currently, it takes about two weeks to clear with URA and lots of paper work depending on the nature of the consignment.
However, with ASYCUDA world operational, clearance time is expected to be reduced by half.
ASYCUDA World is expected to improve customs clearance in the following ways:It will spur iimproved communication, quicken declaration processing, it is a web-enabled system hence traders will be able to submit declarations online from anywhere in the world and it is easy to use with a user-friendly screen.The system can easily interface with other URA and Government Agencies systems, it is possible to attach and submit scanned commercial documents as well as offering paperless declaration processing.Traders can also monitor the status of their declarations from anywhere as long as they have internet connectivity.
An agent needs any computer/laptop on the market so long as it; Can connect to the internet , has a capacity of at least 50GB of hard disk space and has at least 1GB of RAM.
There is no need for special software in order to use the system.
ASYCUDA World is implemented under the Customs Business Systems Enhancement Project which is one of the initiatives under the Managing Compliance Program, (MCP). MCP is the code name for the second phase of modernization reforms to be implemented by URA for the period 2011 to 2015. The MCP aims at improving service delivery to URA clients.The project is funded by Trademark East Africa.
The writer works with the Media Unit in the Commissioner General's Office.