Sri Lanka to get ‘zero time’ cargo clearance with e-customs

Nov 29, 2012 (LBO) – Sri Lanka will soon have ‘zero time’ customs with an automated customs clearing process to begin up to 24 hours before a vessel docks at port, Customs chief Neville Goonewardena said. Sri Lanka is implementing the latest version of Automated System for Customs Data promoted (ASYCUDA World) initiated by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Only ‘e-customs’ infrastructure for air cargo clearance remains to be installed and the hardware is expected within a week, Goonewardena said.

Once the system is running importers could submit customs documents up to 24 hours before a vessel arrives in Colombo.

“If all the taxes are paid, you can clear the cargo in ‘zero time’,” Goonewardene told members of the Import Section of Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.

Importers play a crucial role in the economic freedoms of the poorest sections of society especially in smaller countries, where there are is insufficient domestic competition allowing.

Critics say in Sri Lanka predatory nationalist businesses have been increasingly able to rig the customs system in their favour to block imports and earn extra-normal profits (rents) in recent years.

Pr