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New customs system will automatically lock out importers evading tax declarations.

Importers who do not make domestic tax declarations will automatically be locked out from making importations in the new Integrated Customs Management System.

This follows the direct linkage of the new system with iTax to counter non-compliant traders. The same provision will apply for persons involved in exportation.

Commissioner General John Njiraini noted that the new system enables data sharing with iTax to enable a follow up on tax declarations.

'When you are importing, you have to make a declaration that is pin based. If iTax blocks your pin, then the customs system cannot accept your declaration, meaning you cannot import until you regularize that declaration,' Njiraini said.

While this seeks to mitigate revenue leakages, the system will also give an opportunity to importers to validate their declarations done by clearing agents before they are submitted to customs.

In this case, they will have a pre-emptive view of declarations before they reach customs hence alleviating fraud.

This is unlike the 12 year old Simba system that occasioned fraud opportunities where importers were duped into paying money in excess of what the authority received. The Simba system is now replaced with the ICMS.

Other features of the system include auto-population of customs declarations from shipping data, and the creation of an online virtual auction which enables any Kenyan to bid at customs auctions. It also has the provision of an automated tariff facility which empowers any person to make a Customs declaration.

This means that in future, Kenyans will be able to make Customs declarations without having to depend on Clearing Agents.

Due to its ability to enable system to system data exchange to improve accuracy, iCMS will also receive information from sea and air manifests, exemptions, and permits from partner government agencies, security bonds, bank guarantees, and marine cargo insurance among others.

It is also integrated with Regional Cargo Tracking System,RECTS, and the integrated Scanner Solution,ISS, that seek to mitigate possible diversion of transit goods into the local market or disappearance of containers.

The new system, which is expected to reduce clearance time for imports and exports by 60 per cent was started operations last month and is aimed at modernising custom process across the country.

It has upto date been rolled out for air cargo operations and the management of air passenger declarations.

According to the authority, roll out to cover marine cargo operations is in progress with a target to complete the process within January 2018.

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Publication:The Star (Nairobi, Kenya)
Date:Dec 18, 2017
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