- Daily customer visits to Sri Lanka Customs drop from 500 to 50
- Four cargo scanners ease scanning process, save examination time
By Charumini de Silva
Sri Lanka Customs yesterday said the digital tools have empowered the organisation to provide efficient service to its users while keeping in line with health authority guidelines amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Sri Lanka Customs embarked on several modernisation processes which include trade facilitation agreement and implementation of paperless procedures. These measures helped immensely to maintain social distance to contain contamination due to the pandemic. As a result, we have now been able to reduce our daily customers from 500 to 50, which is remarkable,” Sri Lanka Customs Additional Director General Sunil Jayaratne told the Daily FT.
Although there are certain lapses in certain systems, he said that most of the services are functioning without major disruptions. “A new system takes a little time to adapt into it. While many are now familiar there are few that need more awareness particularly on submitting documents which causes delays in certain procedures,” he added.
Jayaratne also pointed out that the implementation of the four state-of-the-art cargo scanning machines have helped reduce the inspection time of less-hazardous items drastically, while saving time of Custom officials to examine time and reduce interaction with people significantly.
Sri Lanka Customs collects close to 60% of State tax revenue, international trade is a key revenue source of the country.
The organisation has been using ASYCUDA for more than two decades to process declarations and a fully-fledged online e-payment platform since 2017. To further digitalise the process during the pandemic, trade operators were allowed to submit scanned copies of other supporting documents such as invoices.
In addition, regulatory approvals issued by other Government agencies, such as the Sri Lanka Standards Institute, plant and animal quarantine services, the food inspector service, and national medicinal regulatory approval, were allowed to an online platform to which Customs has access. Submission of manifests, delivery orders, and other shipping documents is also done electronically.
Jayaratne also regular engagement private sector stakeholders has helped them to provide remedies for the issues faced by them, during the COVID-19 first wave in early this year and measures have been changed accordingly.