By Phiwa Sikhondze
The Eswatini Revenue Service (ERS) today commemorated International Customs Day 2024.
When celebrating the day, the Revenue Service unpacked several digital transformation initiatives that it has absorbed and put in place to improve service delivery and assist its partners and stakeholders in trade.
International Customs Day is celebrated every year by the World Customs Organization (WCO), an intergovernmental body that represents over 185 customs administrations across the globe. The theme of this year’s celebration is “Customs Engaging Traditional and New Partners with Purpose.”
ERS Commissioner General, Brightwell Nkambule, when making his remarks during the commemoration event highlighted the Revenue Service’s strategic theme, which is to be digitalized, and data-driven with its partners. Nkambule promised that the institution is working tirelessly to engage its partners and ensure a smooth process in the absorption and implementation of digital transformation initiatives.
“We hereby commit that as we embark on our digital transformation journey, we shall be working with our partners hand in hand so that they influence our digital strategy and also influence our processes and effectively influence the way we work,” he said.
He also announced some of the major programmes that the ERS is undertaking to enhance trade facilitation under the digital transformation programme. One of the programmes is the ASYCUDA World Upgrade, a web-based customs management system that allows traders to submit their declarations online.
ERS’s digital ambition is to ensure that its clients do not have to leave their systems to log into ASYCUDA. Instead, they should be able to do their work in their business systems to create the declarations for them in ASYCUDA.
“We would like to expand it to all our clients and also to cover the transit environment as well. So, we see this upgrade as one of the major interventions that will reduce the pressure that our clients currently face,” he said.
With ASYCUDA, the ERS can reduce border delays through pre-clearance. This means that traders can file their declarations even before they get to the border, significantly minimizing the time spent at the border.
The ERS further showcased some of the successful implementation of the WCO programmes, such as the electronic customs tariff, the advance ruling, and the authorized economic operator (AEO) programme. The AEO programme establishes mutually beneficial relationships between traders and customs, offering them expedited clearance and reduced inspections at the border.
“The AEO, in simple terms, establishes mutually beneficial relationships between traders and customs. In simpler terms, we usually say that customs offers you a diplomatic passport at the port of entry so that as a trader you know that you do not have to stop at the border and on the customs side in processing your entries. We are looking at expanding this program to cover benefits on the tax side as well,” the Commissioner General explained.