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Jan 26, 2022

Customs Departments Celebrates Digital Achievements on International Customs Day

It is one of the government’s key revenue departments and today, the Government of Belize commemorated International Customs Day. The ceremony this year was held in the banana belt in Independence Village, Stann Creek with the theme: “Scaling Up Customs Digital Transformation by Embracing A Data Culture and Building a Data Ecosystem.” News Five’s Marion Ali files this report.


Marion Ali, Reporting

Since 2008, the Customs and Excise Department has been upgrading its system of operations from one of semi-automated to fully digitalized. This has streamlined the system through which goods entering and departing Belize, making it more effective and resulting in increased revenues.


Estella Bailey-Leslie, Comptroller of Customs and Excise Department

Estella Bailey-Leslie

“The Department has exceeded its revenue collection target, setting a new monthly record in December 2021 by collecting fifty-two point six million dollars – the result of a comparative analysis of last fiscal year 2020-2021 and this current fiscal year 2021-2022 shows an increase of forty-three point seven percent in revenue collection. This was as a result of using data to drive decision-making, strategy formulation, optimization of our resource allocation, as well as the use of risk-based management by our administration in our operations.”


Comptroller of the Customs and Excise Department, Estella Bailey-Leslie told News Five that with the continued upgrades of the department, using the standardized ASICUDA World database, minimizes the loopholes that once allowed for underhandedness.


Estella Bailey-Leslie

“It takes away that discretionary power from the officer in that the system determines who gets examined. So when you get green (light) there’s no intervention. You know that you’re supposed to take your shipment, you go; if you get red then there’s customs intervention. There is also electronic payment; twenty-four, seven the system is open for people to use. The shipping agency puts in the manifest; the customs broker puts in their declaration, you pay at the bank and then you get your triggering of selectivity where it’s processed through the risk-management system and the colour channel that you get determines that kind of intervention Customs will have on your shipment.”


Marion Ali

“Do we still have that system whereby a Minister can call and say “mek mi bally pass through or do ah wa favour,” and we all know what that means.”


Dr. Louis Zabaneh, Minister of State in Ministry of Education, Culture, Science, Technology and E-Governance

Dr. Louis Zabaneh

“Right. Well, fortunately again, that’s what this system helps to reduce because there’s a traceability that, as you heard the Comptroller mentioned, one of the new innovations is these sailboats that are coming in, for example. Before they even reach Belize they can clear their manifest with the Customs and be able to go right through the whole system. So they don’t have to be waiting for paper work to be done, where then some political has to call in. The system is there getting it done, quickly, efficiently and very transparently.”


And it is that level of transparency that the government intends to see applied through digital systems across the country to help maximize our economic growth.


Dr. Louis Zabaneh

“We always hear of evidence-based decision-making and critical thinking skills as being vital to successful transformation. At the heart of this approach is the utilization of accurate and timely data via modern statistical and programming software to estimate and quote, unquote “see relationships and patterns that would otherwise miss the naked eye.” Our government is committed to concentrate on the implementation of this approach and promote innovative technologies across our economy.”


During today’s ceremony, twenty customs officers were recognized for their stellar performance over the past year that resulted in the overall above-average yields that the department realized.


Marion Ali reporting for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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