Recently, Mr. Marlon Johnson, Acting Financial Secretary gave a brief update on the progress of The Bahamas Single Electronic Window, now branded The Bahamas Customs Click2Clear initiative.

“The objective of this project is to create a digital platform that will revolutionize the approach to Customs clearance and it is also consistent with the Government’s mandate for digitization.  This platform will modernize the antiquated process that is presently conducted manually,” said Mr. Johnson.

Click2Clear fortifies the government’s initiatives to significantly reduce revenue leakage. When this platform is totally implemented it will encourage a greater level of compliance, as this new system will incorporate Artificial Intelligence.  This technological innovation has the capability to easily track trends and detect any vendor or invoice anomalies or inconsistencies.   Additionally, the new system will assist the government tremendously with access to accurate data that will support timely decision-making.

Further, Mr. Johnson said that he was fully cognizant of the learning curve involved in the usage of the new online platform.  However he assured the business community and the general public that The Bahamas Customs Team is knowledgeable and willing to guide them through this transition.  He also mentioned that the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the Ministry of Finance to also assist with this transition.  Mr. Johnson expressed profound satisfaction with the level of stakeholders’ engagement and participation throughout the entire process, which has spanned over several years.

“There has been a ramp up in training as the system went live on several islands.  Abaco represented the largest island to go live to date.  The experience with Abaco’s onboarding process has been a teachable one.  However, officials from Bahamas Customs and Ministry of Finance successfully met with stakeholders from the wholesalers industry on Abaco to apprise them of what was happening and to receive feedback from them which was essential to refining the system”, said Johnson.

Mr. Johnson reiterated that Click2Clear is being implemented in phases.  He said it is important for passengers traveling with accompanying baggage to note that they do not need to be registered at this particular time, in order to clear customs.  This phase of registration is only mandatory for persons importing items, whether through a broker or shipper.

The Acting Financial Secretary recapitulated Click2Clear is an immense project.  It covers the entire country of The Bahamas; wherever a Customs Port exists.  He said that the scope of this project is not semi-automated, where some elements will remain manual. But rather, fully automated. Therefore, given the enormity of this project it is not devoid of challenges.

To this end, Bahamas Customs advises that the original date of September 1, 2019 for the onboarding of New Providence Seaport has been deferred to October 1, 2019.  Effective October 1, the Customs Legacy System, commonly referred to as Ecas will no longer be the primary system used for Customs processing.   Mr. Tyrone Sands, superintendent Bahamas Customs and spokesperson said that Bahamas Customs and Excise has reached a major milestone with the implementation of the business portal Click2Clear.  In 2018 Bahamas Customs successfully onboarded businesses that are involved in air cargo.  Including:  DHL, FedEX, Sonic Express, Blue Postal, ZipEx and others.

“The Comptroller of Customs has committed herself to ensuring that all business persons receive training, free of charge.  We have already trained hundreds of customs brokers. Since, August 2018, approximately 65,600 declarations submitted by air cargo operations have been processed through Click2Clear,” said Superintendent Sands.

The integration of the New Providence Seaport into the Click2Clear portal represents significant progress as 80 per cent of all cargo entering the Bahamas are shipped via New Providence Seaport.   The new Click2Clear portal will level the playing field for all imports as well as assist Customs with becoming more transparent, efficient and accountable.  Eventually, it will move customs to a cashless operation; thus reducing revenue leakages.  Also, it will provide the government with more accurate statistical information.  Mr. Sands is confident that businesses are taking the necessary steps to ready themselves for this transition.  However, he guarantees that Customs will be ready.

Mr. Jeffrey Beckles of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce said that the private sector is extremely pleased with the progress that Bahamas Customs has made with Click2Clear, the new online portal.   Further, Mr. Beckles said that the Chamber’s number one objective is to be able to meet the demands of its customers and the Electronic Single Window will do just that.  It provides for greater transparency, ease of operation, and allows us to get our goods on our shelves and to our clients at a very reasonable time frame.

“Another great feature is the system’s ability to collect data, which will lead to strategic conversations with policymakers, because now we can do more analytical assessments in terms of how to prepare for the future, how to engage with government on various policy decisions that need to be taken in order to help the economy to continue to grow,” said Mr. Beckles.

The Chief Executive Officer of the chamber appealed to the business community to really get involved and comply with it because the more they use the system the more efficient it becomes.  Additionally, he said that the system will hold all businesses equally accountable, and each business will now have to pay fair share.  Finally, he said the chamber looks forward to supporting in remaining islands that have to be launched.

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Source: Ministry of Finance
Ministry of Finance Central Communications Unit