Senate passes law to speed up exports
The Senate yesterday passed legislation amending the Processed Food Act and the Processed Food (General) Regulations, 1959, removing the requirement for export certificates to facilitate the implementation of the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA).
ASYCUDA is a web-based system designed to transform the Jamaica Customs Agency into a paperless operation through the use of electronic documents.
The removal of the export certificate provisions will shorten the process for the export of processed food.
Government Senator Kavan Gayle, in his contribution to the debate, said that the passage of the bill would greatly assist persons who do business with Jamaica Customs.
"Those who have to utilise the services at Customs complain about the long duration it takes to attain the level of service that is required, and implementing this system is effective in making that transformation."
Don Wehby, government senator and chief executive officer of GraceKennedy Limited, said that the passage of the bill would speed up the export process for processed food, facilitate trade, and bring Jamaica closer in line with international best practices regarding production and export.
"The removal of barriers to trade, which includes the changes that are being discussed here today (yesterday), is essential to success in achieving our strategic goals for export."
Opposition Senator Sophia Fraser-Binns said that while the legislation would help to increase efficiency in the area of exports, the industry remained predominantly paper-based.
"When one looks at what is required for import and export: to export, we require a bill of landing, a commercial invoice, export entry, a packing list, a dock receipt, an import licence, approval from the relevant ministry, and, for CARICOM, a certificate of origin."
Fraser-Binns said that similar documents are required for imports in addition to import entry, a gate pass, a compliance certificate, and a Customs release order.
"These things are actually hindrances to commercial undertaking," she said.