The new Integrated Customs Management System (ICMS) being piloted at The Port of Mombasa will optimise service delivery and enhance regional trade.
Speaking during this year’s International Customs Day (ICD) in Mombasa, Tuesday, Kenya Revenue Authority Southern Region coordinator Joseph Tonui said the ICT upgrades are within KRA’s agenda to enhance efficiency as well as promote tax compliance.
The upgrade is a replacement of the 13-year-old Simba system and is designed to seal tax loopholes and make trade processes seamless.
“The authority is fully committed to reducing the cargo dwell time at The Port of Mombasa and the system which is currently being piloted at the port is a game-changer in facilitating trade through faster clearance of cargo,” said Tonui.
He acknowledged few hitches in the roll-out of the new system, but assured cargo clearance at the port would not be derailed.
“Of course, there are few challenges but using both systems concurrently will ensure no gridlocks are experienced,” he said.
KRA requires importers to submit Import Declaration Forms (IDFs), sea manifests, security bonds, cargo declarations and exemptions through ICMS with piloting at the port starting with bulk cargo.
“Conventional cargo is currently on the ICMS system, so where there are challenges, we are going to ensure they are rectified. We know there are challenges with new systems. Sometimes, they derail business but we are working to ensure the system is fully operational,” added Tunoi.
ICMS is aimed at achieving full automation of all customs functions and processes in Kenya and East Africa. KRA said it has been training stakeholders and continues to offer support for those yet to understand the new system.
The taxman described ICMS as revolutionary, leveraging on modern technologies to deliver a new customer experience in international trade.
Among the key benefits to be delivered by the upgrade are faster clearance of cargo, dynamic risk management and automated confirmation of exports.
At the same time, Tonui said embracing the single customs territory that will minimise the transit goods clearance time will bolster the tax agency’s efforts to meet its targets this financial year.
This, he said, has reduced unnecessary trade barriers and tariffs on transit goods, and ensured faster movement of cargo to the hinterland.
“Following the continued threat of Covid-19 pandemic, KRA realigned operations of customs and border control department to ensure business continuity by undertaking a number of cargo clearance procedures through online platforms to minimise physical contact between officers and clients,” he added.
2020 records show that KRA collected Sh200 billion surpassing revenue target of Sh183 billion in the half financial year July 2020-December 2020. Tonui attributes the revenue collection increment to leveraging on technology.
The port Chief Operations manager Abdumalik Hussein said the agency has done well at sealing revenue gaps that had been experienced before.
“The use of technology and the proactivity of customs officers who have been vigilant to ensure contraband trade is contained at The Port of Mombasa have made the port look less attractive for smuggling and international crimes,” said Hussein.
The Port of Mombasa is the key entry and exit point for cargo belonging to a vast hinterland that includes Kenya, Uganda Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, South Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia.
The 2021 ICD theme was, ‘customs bolstering recovery, renewal and resilience for a sustainable supply chain’.