Information Communication Technology as a tool for enhanced business processes and increased Trade Facilitation

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The importance of having extensive knowledge of trade facilitation is becoming even more necessary as a tool for increased and smoother trade transactions between countries. This is due largely to the potentially negative effects that burdensome trade procedures could have on economic development.
Simply put, trade facilitation is an indispensable dimension of economic growth in today’s globalised world, more particularly, from a developing country’s viewpoint. Developing countries more often than not, have more burdensome trade procedures, while still being heavily dependent on the collection of customs revenues.
Therefore, having a simplified trade facilitation process is of immense value to any developing country as it increases security and lowers the cost of complying with rules and regulations for governments and businesses, both locally and internationally.
In the same vein, the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) continues to provide ways in which countries can enhance trade facilitation. Recorded literature has suggested that ICT is one of the most powerful tools to increase Customs efficiency.
While implementing automated features to assist in trade facilitation that can have a high initial cost, the benefits of employing these processing systems and transaction features, in the long run, are worth the investment times over.
It is with this in mind that the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has implemented a Customs Declaration Query Checker and a Licences Transaction Checker. These two facilities are available to the relevant stakeholders by simply accessing the GRA’s website.

Customs Declaration Checker
The Customs Declaration Query replaced the manual system which was used to manage queries and now allows such queries to be seen by the importer via the updated Online Customs Declaration Checker and the in-house Kiosk Declaration system.
In 2012, the GRA introduced the Online Declaration Checker to enable importers and brokers to monitor their Customs Declarations status rather than having to make unnecessary trips to the GRA’s Customs Department.
The current version of the Checker has an added advantage of enabling quicker responses in instances where documents are queried by the Customs Entry Processing Unit (EPU).
With the use Customs Declaration Checker, importers can enter their Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) and the Declaration Number to see the status of their transaction, with or without queries or they can enter their TIN only and see all of their declarations, with or without queries, for the last fourteen days. The Kiosk Declaration System works similarly, but does not have a date-limit and is only accessible from the GRA Headquarters facility.
The Customs Online Checker and Kiosk systems are regarded as convenient and transparent means by which importers can track the progress of their declarations. The intervention was spearheaded by the GRA’s Information Technology (IT) Department and adds to the numerous efforts by the Authority to improve its services over the years through technology.

Licence Transaction Checker
Similar to the Customs Declaration Checker is the Licence Transaction Checker which was also developed in-house by the GRA’s Information Technology Department. The Licence Transaction Checker offers an online portal for taxpayers to track the status of their licence applications.
This online application is open to all licence transaction types including Motor Vehicle, Driver’s and Liquor, Trade and Miscellaneous Licences. Upon application for any licence, the taxpayer is issued with a transaction slip, which contains a transaction number.
Taxpayers wishing to check the progress of their transactions simply enters their TIN and the last six digits of the transaction number. Thereafter, a screen will open with the requisite details. This checker seeks to provide Taxpayers/Applicants with a facility to check on the status of their transactions rather than visiting GRA Offices, especially in cases where their transactions are not yet complete. Noteworthy, is the fact that the Licence Transaction Checker is updated every fifteen minutes so applicants are able to track their transactions in real time.
Further, this checker comes equipped with an Email Notification feature for taxpayers who provide their email addresses to the GRA. This feature sends an email to taxpayers /transaction applicants once their transaction is approved and awaiting payment or flagged for queries.
As Information Communication Technology continues to advance, the business landscape will continue to be transformed, and the GRA is ready to embrace the future of tax administration in a world driven by technology.

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