Solomon Islands importers and exporters have begun using electronic Customs forms to speed up the time it takes to send goods in or out of the country.The Solomon Islands Customs Automation Modernisation Program is working to reduce the time taken for businesses to import and export goods from Solomon Islands, and increase the accuracy of the information in the Entry forms.
RAMSI is working in partnership with the government to help implement the project which will improve business processes in Solomon Islands and help increase transparency.
Comptroller of Customs, Daniel Rofeta, said the new form has already been tested by 16 businesses.
"We conducted a three months trial using the new system and we received very positive feedback from businesses. I would like to thank the business community for helping us to improve the Customs process."
The new electronic forms, called eSAD, are easy to use and automatically calculate duties, exchange rates, and other information.
Mr. Rofeta said feedback from the trial had led to more improvements being made before this week's launch.
"Business sees that the new system is good for doing business in Solomon Islands," Mr. Rofeta said.
One of the trial participants, Rose Ma'abe of Bowmans Limited, commented, "While using this new electronic eSAD system, I found it more efficient than before when preparing my Customs Entries."
RAMSI Project management adviser, Anna Lamont, said that Customs was now conducting a large information and awareness campaign for the local business community.
"We are providing information, training and education sessions to help businesses change from using the old paper forms to the much faster, and more accurate, electronic forms," Ms Lamont said.
The two hour training course is being held at Customs House and all businesses are welcome to attend.
Alongside the roll-out of the electronic forms, Customs are also introducing the requirement for businesses to quote their Tax Identification Numbers (TIN) on all Import and Export entries.
Project Manager, James Lapo, said that by ensuring all entries are lodged with a valid TIN from the Inland Revenue Division, Customs and Inland Revenue can more accurately report on Imports and Exports.
RAMSI Development Coordinator, Paul Kelly, said that the Customs Modernisation project will help people to do business in Solomon Islands and compete in international markets.
"The Solomon Islands Customs and Excise Division in partnership with RAMSI have been working hard to develop the capacity of Customs staff and systems," Mr. Kelly said.
He added that improved procedures and the use of IT will reduce the cost of bringing business in and out of Solomon Islands.
Mr. Rofeta also acknowledged the help and cooperation input from other government agents and authorities who have contributed significantly to the project.
The project, when fully implemented, "will make customs more effective, efficient, and equitable," Mr. Rofeta said.