Swaziland has been named top in Africa in the management and facilitation of the Cross Border Trade dubbed “the Big Bang”. It is currently ranked number 30 in the world. This is according to the World Bank, Investor Road Map rating on trading across borders.
This was revealed during the 2nd Steering Committee meeting for the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) that took place at the Royal Swazi Sun Hotel, in Ezulwini, Swaziland on 4th July 2016. ASCYUDA is a computerized system designed by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to administer a country’s customs.
The meeting brought together members of the steering committee drawn from the Swaziland Revenue Authority, the Ministries in charge of Commerce and International Trade, Finance and Economic planning. Others were the Federation of Swaziland Employers and Chambers of Commerce the European Union Commission, UNCTAD and COMESA.
Commissioner General of the Swaziland Revenue Authority, Dumisani Masilela said the implementation of ASYCUDA World would enhance Swazilandâ€™s efforts to remain in the lead or even improve on the world standing and set the country on the path to meet obligations under WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.
He said significant progress had been made in the implementation of the project since the last meeting of the Committee in May 2015.
â€œThe system went live in Swaziland as scheduled in all commercial border posts and Inland Customs clearance offices on the 1st February 2016. To date all non-commercial borders, save for only one and the post office, have been connected,â€ the Commissioner General said.
The meeting took stock of the progress made thus far on the implementation of the project and to reflect on any challenges in the implementation of the system after its launch in February 2016.
â€œThe outcome should enable us to determine a way forward on the rollout program of the system and to ensure that the benefits of the system are effectively realized,â€ he said. â€œUnlike many administrations which have implemented a similar system ahead of us, we opted for a â€œBig Bangâ€ instead of a â€œPhasedâ€ implementation approach.â€
He said despite a few connectivity challenges which were experienced during the first few days of implementation, this approach presented a number of advantages as reporting information was sourced from one system instead two separate systems.
COMESA Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya congratulated the country for the successful roll-out of the project and urged for further improvement of the information and Communication Technology sector if the country is to sustain the various automated projects which have been implemented recently.
He urged other COMESA member States to emulate Swaziland success on the ease of doing business. He said the key benefits of the ASYCUDA system was the reduction in the border waiting time as traders could clear their consignment before it physically arrived at the points of entry.
He applauded the European Union, the UNCTAD and the Government of Swaziland for the invaluable contribution made towards the implementation of the project.
The ASYCUDA Project was initiated in October 2014 immediately after the approval of the â‚¬947,411 funding by the COMESA Council of Finance Ministers under the Regional Integration Support Mechanism (RISM), COMESA Adjustment Facility (CAF).
â€œSwaziland should now start working on the possibilities of moving into creating a Virtual One Stop Border Post and introduce an e-application which will embrace all the stakeholders and ensure that the ease of doing business is achieved,â€ he advised.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce and International Trade, Mr. Jinno Nkhambule said the Big Bang approach was received with mixed feeling by various stakeholders and was happy to see it succeed as most business people are now happy with the system.
He said legislation should be passed to allow members of the business community to do business in Swaziland with ease and safety.