Thursday, July 2, 2009

Adopt electronic document processing or drop out, TRA tells clearing agents


AFTER postponing execution of the mandatory measure requiring clearing and forwarding agents to process all their import documents electronically for Tanga-based agents, the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) is in no mood to tolerate such agents who would not comply with the directive issued way back in 2007.

A senior TRA official in Tanga said while opening a training seminar for Tanga-based freight forwarders recently that the authority would take punitive measures against defaulters, including de-registration if they fail to learn and implement the change from manual to the mandatory Electronic processing of all import documents.

The official, an Assistant Regional Manager (Customs) Ben Usaje Asubisye reminded Tanga-based Clearing and Forwarding Agents to realize that they were living in a changing global situation dominated by changing operations that use new communications technology aimed at minimizing time and curbing corruption.

The training was aimed at introducing clearing and forwarding agents to lodge the electronic IDF with TISCAN, the company that carries out customs valuation and classification on behalf of the TRA and also the organizers of the training in cooperation with the Tanzania Freight Forwarders Association (TAFFA) and the TRA.

“Tanga Agents must adapt to the new technology or face the possibility of disappearing like the dinosaur,” Asubisye stressed. For those who cannot learn the new technology, he urged them to employ expert personnel because the business was becoming more professional.

The Commissioner General of the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) slapped a ban on use of manual IDF starting September, 2007 allowing July and August of the same year as a grace period where both the manual and electronic IDF were supposed to run parallel.

The introduction of the Electronic IDF, which applies to all transactions subject to TISCAN processes is part the TRA’s plan to progressively implement measures to modernize the import documentation process.

The objectives of modernization measures are to facilitate trade while improving revenue collection,” he said adding that the introduction of the Electronic IDF is ahead of the implementation of a Web-based Pre-arrival Document (PAD)system towards the end of 2007.

Speaking at the same occasion, the Vice President of the Tanzania Freight Forwarders Association (TAFFA), Manfred Mtitu said that clearing agents should be thankful to the TRA for postponing execution of its modernization plan in Tanga three times at the request of TAFFA.

Mtitu said that the move to introduce the Electronic IDF was a result of a general Universal Commerce and Trade which is now conducted through the internet. He stressed that the whole world was not operating along those lines and those who would not comply would be forced to drop out of the business and should not blame the Government for that.

“TRA has decided to involve us as stakeholders. We must not allow time to get ahead and leave us behind,” he said, stressing that whether they liked it or not they have to change to take advantage of the obvious benefits of modernization.

Mtitu mentioned the advantages and benefits as including hastening and opening up operations, offering chances off ground fair play and furthermore reducing human interaction that allows for possibilities of corruption.

He said that Dar was way ahead in introduction of the new technology and that a few of the 500 registered companies have been forced to drop out due to compliance problems including failing to use the electronic process.

Speaking at the training, the Tanga TISCAN Office Manager, Atubone Wilson said that the new system offers hope for Optimization of TRA’s revenue collections, Simplification of the clearance process, improved clearance speed and Optimal application of modern technologies.

He said that Tiscan Ltd is an active partner with TRA, and collaborates with TAFFA and other stakeholders such as, Necor Data Ltd which operates the Asycuda++ an Electronic Link set up between Tiscan and TRA since January 2007 and the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA).

From Business Times
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