On the 1st of July, 2009, the National Revenue Authority (NRA) is going to dramatically improve efficiency and timeliness in the clearing processes of goods at the Deep Water Quay by introducing the internet-oriented programme called “ASYCUDA”.
ASYCUDA is the acronym for a computer programme called “Automated System for Customs Data”. It has been designed by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to ensure that international trade is smoother, more efficient, and is of mutual benefit to importers and revenue institutions among member countries.
Using the internet-oriented ASYCUDA, goods are cleared far faster than it is now, and, because computerized records are kept, it will almost entirely plug all leakages in the revenue system at Customs. It is expected that ASYCUDA will bring about a dramatic increase in revenues for the NRA.
Oswald Hanciles, head of the Public Affairs and Tax Education unit in the Commissioner-General’s Office at the NRA, said there is the high-level support for the introduction of the ASYCUDA programme in the NRA; and already, a lot of computerized equipment have been stationed, and staff are being trained in the use of these equipment.
The NRA has also embarked on consultation with stakeholders – like clearing and forwarding agencies; shipping agencies – who have to use the ASYCUDA programme along with the NRA for it to work. Speaking further, Hanciles said that the ASYCUDA programme would generate instant statistical data which can be used by the NRA, and also used by other relevant governmental and international agencies to make projections, and more easily make economic and developmental computations.
Within a year after July 1, 2009, ASYCUDA programme will be introduced at all the land and sea Customs ports in Sierra Leone. The British DFID has given significant support for the introduction of the system.