Customs modernization making tremendous progress

Customs modernization making tremendous progress
The Central Bank of The Bahamas logo.

Business community and Customs work closely on phased roll-out of new technology platform

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Major changes are underway at the Department of Customs with the phased roll-out of a new online Customs clearance platform that will transform and modernize the way Customs operates.

The system is designed to deliver faster, more efficient and comprehensive Customs processing once fully implemented.

The implementation plan has about 10 major parts, including: a business management portal; an online payment platform; a new system for filing declarations online; and a completely integrated system for the online processing of Customs related permits and licences with other government agencies. Each component is at a different stage of implementation, with many overlapping parts.

“There is no question, this is a massive undertaking and it is long-overdue. We are still in the early stages of implementation, but when the full system is operational it will significantly improve the speed of doing business; minimize the influence of corruption; and bring greater security and transparency to the process of importing and exporting goods in The Bahamas,” said K. Peter Turnquest, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.

The roll-out started in late 2018 with New Providence based air cargo carriers. As of February 2019, there were over 1,600 businesses, including couriers, brokers and other business importers on the new system, and progress continues to be made. In early 2019, Customs started a pilot test in Eleuthera, as part of its phased Family Island roll-out for air and sea ports. Now, Customs is implementing lessons learned and ensuring internal readiness. In the next few months, Customs will continue the phased roll-out, supported by a public education campaign.

“Very soon we will formally introduce the public to the new online system, Click2Clear, which we are building into a one-stop-shop for all Customs clearance processes. We are very confident that Click2Clear will take Customs into the future, and deliver more speed, functionality and efficiency,” said Minister Turnquest.

“Just one generation ago, Customs was using a completely manual, paper-based system. In the world of technology that is light years away. We have an older digital system right now that is no longer fit for purpose, so we are transitioning to an internationally compatible platform that brings all of Customs’ trade process together in one convenient online location,” he said.

When Click2Clear is fully implemented, some the benefits will include:

  • Paperless Customs processing;
  • Automated entry checking;
  • End-to-end online processing and tracking, with no more need to run around from office to office;
  • Tighter controls and risk management to reduce corruption and fraud;
  • More accountability to protect government revenue;
  • More statistical information for effective policy making.

“We want the full system up and running as soon as possible, but a massive change process cannot be implemented overnight. We want to minimize the inconvenience to the general public and ensure that businesses continue to operate effectively during the transition phase. This system is going to impact every importer, including individuals who purchase items online, so we plan to take the time to ensure everyone is properly informed. As we bring more of the system online, we will experience more of the benefits,” said Minister Turnquest.

“Overall, we know there is agreement about the need for Customs to modernize, and I congratulate Comptroller Moss and her team on the strides they have made and continue to make. In the end, their efforts to implement Click2Clear and transform Customs will benefit the business community, Bahamian consumers and the nation on the whole,” he said.