Pointing to a new website with online auctioning capabilities, electronic payment services and drone technology that will bolster border protection services, Jamaica Customs Agency’s Commissioner, Velma Ricketts Walker, says that the JCA is laying the foundation to transition to a successful digital authority.
The new digital systems, which are in keeping with the Agency’s thrust for enhancing the service experience for customers conducting business with the JCA are in tandem with culturally establishing the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) quality management system across the Agency.
Commissioner Ricketts Walker who made the announcement while speaking at the the 20th Annual Customs Seminar hosted by the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, highlighted the adopted World Customs Organization (WCO) Digital Customs Maturity Model, which has formed the framework for the rollout of these digital systems.
“Our Digital Customs Maturing Model outlines the various stages that are involved in our process towards digitization,” Ricketts Walker said. “A major part of this process is our [JCA] new website that will have additional features such as online auctioning, duty calculator and more options for online payments.”
She mentioned that some electronic systems have already been integrated into customs processes, including the Jamaica Single Window for Trade (JSWIFT), an electronic system that enables traders to submit documents at a single digital point.
“JSWIFT has been a major benefit to importers and exporters, who have experienced a reduction in wait time and greater access to information.”
These improvements are to ensure that the Agency continue to respond to the needs of clients and furthering its digitization agenda.
While acknowledging the challenges the pandemic has created, Ricketts Walker lauded her team for improving productivity during the pandemic, citing the number of declarations processed since the start of the year as an indication.
“As of September 2021, 90% or a total of 61,725 commercial declarations were documentary processed from 68,241 submitted by our importers/brokers within our standard time of 20 hours from receipt” she said.
The commissioner also reassured those in attendance that the Agency remains ready to provide the highest quality service to its clients.
Meanwhile, Andre Williams, Chief Information Officer at Jamaica Customs Agency and JSWIFT’s Project Manager, expressed optimism that the new technological developments at Customs will improve efficiency within the Agency.
“These new digital platforms will provide new solutions to our customers’ needs and enhance the efficiency and transparency of our operations,” Williams said. Over the last two years, the Agency has managed to automate several key services which include Returning Residents Application and approval services, Express Clearance Process (ECP) for non-commercial cargo, electronic passenger processing, electronic export manifest, online refund applications and the JSWIFT Services for Trade Board Limited (TBL), the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority (JACRA), MOA-Plant Quarantine Produce Inspection Branch (PQPIB) and the Jamaica Customs Agency.