Monday, 29 July 2013 00:09
The Import Section of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce held its 78th Annual General Meeting on 3 July at The Kingsbury Hotel, Colombo, with Jagath P. Wijeweera, Director General of Sri Lanka Customs, attending as Chief Guest. Kevin Edwards was re-elected as the Chairman and Navindra Abeysekera was re-elected as the Vice Chairman of the Import Section.
Speaking at the event, Edwards stated: “We must congratulate the Sri Lanka Customs under its present Director General Jagath Wijeweera together with his Directors and Officers for having fast tracked implementation of the ASYCUDA World. We should accept that we all have a fear of change, the change at the Customs in processing documentation should not be feared if we are 100% sure of what we are doing.”
Stating that others would view this change with negative opinion, on behalf of the Imports Section of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, the Chairman assured the Sri Lanka Customs that the trade was supportive of this move. Once fully implemented it will be an e-custom paperless system, which will facilitate the trade to the maximum at a minimal cost.
Edwards called on Sri Lanka Customs to bring back the Gold Card System where selected importers could enjoy preferential treatment when clearing their cargo, doing away with the existing system where all importers are treated alike. The Gold Card System was abandoned five years ago for the reasons best known to the Department of Sri Lanka Customs.
“A request by the trade to the Customs is to select importers with very good track records for ease of transaction unlike majority of the importers undergo clearing their cargo. At the moment all importers are treated alike regardless of their past track record under the Green Card System,” said Edwards. He said there were about 50 importers recognised under this scheme who enjoyed the privilege before the Customs withdrew the Gold Card System.
Further he highlighted the need for private bonding facilities. “This too is a long felt need of the trade with today’s high financial costs. We as the trade hope serious thought will be given to these issues and will be in force soon.”
Addressing the gathering, Jagath Wijeweera mentioned that AEO (Authorised Economic Operator) system was being introduced at Sri Lanka Customs. He stated that you could have your own line without checking and having your goods examined. On a lighter note, he said that if he were to talk good of Customs it may take hours but if he were to talk bad, it may take days.
He went on to say that the complete implementation of the ASYCUDA World system for both import and export trades would soon become a reality and that the Sri Lanka Customs was now at the final stage of automating its processes. He urged the trade to inform Sri Lanka Customs of any concerns/impediments that are encountered, to facilitate the efficacious implementation of the system. “Usually problems occur because of gaps in communications. Therefore we should bridge the communication gap between you and the Customs,” said the Customs Chief.