Commissioner of Customs Wade Smith has disagreed with recent sentiments coming out of the House of Assembly that the Customs Automated Processing System (CAPS) contributes to wasting state resources.
CAPS provides for all trader declarations forms to Customs to be completed and submitted online. However, Opposition Leader Marlon Penn said while the system is quite good, “a lot of aspects of it is ill-conceived”.
Penn said this should not be the case for a system that costs more than $5 million.
Responding to the statement on ZBVI radio recently, Commissioner Smith said the aforesaid figure is “a drop in the bucket” compared to the money CAPS brings in for the department annually.
“Since the implementation of CAPS, the Customs Department has gone from the collection of revenue which is under $27 million annually to a number in the range of $40 million collected annually. So you’re seeing an increase in tens of millions of dollars. So a $5 million investment which could yield tens of millions of dollars; if you do the maths, I think that’s an investment that is yielding tremendous dividends. I don’t know of any other investment that has yielded that amount of dividends in a short space of time,” Smith reasoned.
One aspect of CAPS for which Penn had an issue was that importers who fill out documentation online are still required to provide a print-out of those documents when they go to collect their goods at the ports.
Smith didn’t address the printing aspect directly but said: “Our information can be submitted electronically from any part of the world. And right now, even with the pandemic, we were way ahead of the game in terms of having our information submitted electronically, receiving summaries electronically, receiving their documents, and for importers to proceed directly to the ports of entry — whether it be the airport or the seaport — to clear their goods.”
He further said the CAPS is at least a decade ahead of its time and Customs continues to improve the system. He said they continue to invite importers to submit feedback through surveys; the results of which Customs studies for self-improvement.
Smith also said Customs has weekly meetings to build on the system which was developed through close collaboration with the department and American multinational technology company, IBM.
“We’re not going to remain in one position forever. We’re always coming up with new ideas, new initiatives … The system is doing what it’s supposed to do,” Smith stated, adding that he is proud of CAPS and the hard work of his team that continues to manage and improve on it.
Copyright 2021 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.