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KRA bets on new ICT system to boost revenue

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) on Tuesday defended the implementation of the new Integrated Customs Management System (ICMS) to enhance efficiency in the clearing of goods.

KRA Southern Region Coordinator Joseph Tonui acknowledged ‘few challenges’ in the roll out of the new system, but assured that this will not derail cargo clearance at the Port of Mombasa.

He said the ICT upgrades fit well as part of KRAs agenda to enhance service delivery as well as promote tax compliance.

Speaking during this year’s celebrations of International Customs day (ICD) in Mombasa Tuesday, Tonui acknowledged hiccups in the new systems implementation, even as he assured that the minor challenges will not derail cargo clearance at the port.

KRA’s Customs and Border Control Department, is currently implementing the ICMS meant to replace the 13-year old Simba system, hoping to seal tax holes and make trade processes seamless.

The new system, according to Tunoi is a ‘game changer’ in facilitating regional trade. “The Authority is fully committed to reducing the cargo dwell time at the port of Mombasa. Of course, there are few challenges but its working concurrently with the Simba system to ensure no gridlocks are experienced. The system which is currently being piloted at the Port of Mombasa is a game changer in facilitating trade through faster clearance of cargo,” said Tonui.

KRA requires importers to submit Import Declaration Forms (IDFs), sea manifests, security bonds, cargo declarations and exemptions through ICMS.

At the port, piloting started 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 who don’t understand the new system.

It described ICMS as revolutionary, leveraging on modern technologies to deliver a new customer experience in international trade. Some of the key benefits to be delivered by ICMS include faster clearance, dynamic risk management and automated confirmation of exports.

Tonui is confident that the tax agency will meet its targets this financial year. This will be bolstered through embracing the single customs territory that will minimize the transit goods clearance time.

This has reduced unnecessary trade barriers and tariffs on transit goods, and ensures 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 minimize physical contact between officers and clients,” he added.

At the same time, 2020 records show that KRA managed to collect 200 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.

According to Abdumalik Hussein, the Chief Manager port operations, the agency is leveraging on technology to seal revenue gaps that had been experienced before. KRA has been grappling with revenue targets for decades and with the leveraging on technology, the game has changed.

“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.

This year’s International Customs day (ICD) theme was, Customs bolstering recovery, renewal and resilience for a sustainable supply chain.

by Mohamed Hassan

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