The government this week began the implementation phase of the project to install and train the users of the Automated System for Customs Data widely known around the world as ASYCUDA.
The introduction of this system will bring Niue in line with the international trading community, using an automated information platform that will make it easier for the government to track and collect revenue and improve data entry for exporters and importers on the island.
A debrief meeting of the steering committee for this project was held earlier this week and attended by the Minister of Finance and Customs Hon. Crossley Tatui, the New Zealand High Commissioner, Financial Secretary, and officials from the Office of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
Chamberlin Pita of the Customs department is the Project Manager, he explained the benefits of this system
“ASYCUDA is an automated system for Customs data developed by the United Nations Conference of Trade and Development (UNCTAD). It’s something new for Niue, a very exciting journey with this project.
Mr. Pita said that there are many benefits to having this system both for the government and for other stakeholders.
“The benefits for importers and exporters or manifest holders vary, like less printing, less traveling. You can use this system while you’re not on the island”, said Pita.
He said that this new system will benefit both the government in terms of the collection of revenue and will benefit the stakeholders by making it easier for them to submit their information online.
Chamberlin Pita told BCN News that like any project there were and are challenges, chief among them are organisational and legal challenges such as an outdated customs law.
Mr. Pita said, now that ASYCUDA is launched they will have to revive and continue their work on the Customs Bill.
Last year, Customs officials spent months training the stakeholders from the private sector on how to use the system, sometimes working late into the night and over the weekends.
On the practical implementation of the collection of customs data, importers and exporters are now required to upload online all information required by Customs. Starting with the last cargo boat visit manifest holders will have to file their paperwork using ASYCUDA.
There is a consultant from UNCTAD on the island for five weeks to oversee the initial implementation of the project, but Mr Pita said that they have submitted a request for this consultant can stay for up to six months to ensure the smooth transition from a manual system used for many decades to this new automated system.
The project and installation of ASYCUDA is made possible through the technical assistance of officials from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the funding provided by the governments of Australia and New Zealand through the Pacer Plus trade agreement.