COVID drives Customs towards rapid paperless regime | Daily News

COVID drives Customs towards rapid paperless regime

Chairman, SLPA,   Daya Ratnayake -Director General of Sri Lanka Customs Vijitha Ravipriya
Chairman, SLPA, Daya Ratnayake -Director General of Sri Lanka Customs Vijitha Ravipriya

The COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdowns indirectly helped Sri Lanka Customs to go on a rapid drive towards a paperless regime, said Director General of Sri Lanka Customs Department, Retired Major General Vijitha Ravipriya.

“This is to minimize people to people contact and I can say that we have now been effective in obtaining 70% success in this area,” he said.

Ravipriya was speaking at a webinar yesterday conducted by European Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka on the theme, ‘Implication of Paperless and Contactless Procedure at the Port of Clearance in Sri Lanka’.He also said that the much hyped Single Window concept which was to be introduced on many occasions did not materialize and it was a failure. “We have now selected five stakeholders and are once again successfully moving towards creating a single concept but on a new perceptive:top to bottom approach. The industry pressure highlighting the need of a Single Window one-stop facility that allows exchange of information between all parties involved in trade to reduce complexity, time and costs is a priority in our agenda.”He said that the automation process in the customs for the public as well as for staff too is now being automated with the assistance of Colombo University. “Automation will create more transparency and increase efficiency.”

He said it took him around six months to clear red tape and have a computer system for the custom and automation will minimize such issues in the future. He also said that some officer’s dislike to embrace new systems and a ‘mindset change drive’ too is on the cards. “By and large COVID19 pandemic situation has badly affected in implementing planned systems.”

Chairman, Sri Lanka ports Authority, General (Retd.) Daya Ratnayake said that several novel initiatives are being taken to eliminate bottlenecks in the port and increase ease of doing business throughout the supply chain to minimize port delays caused by lengthy, complex procedures and excessive paperwork that creates a negative impact on trade. (SS)