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May 15, 2023

Improving the Ease of Business at Customs

A five-day workshop commenced today to further ensure the ease of business in trade. With support from the World Customs Organizations, stakeholders in the industry are being engaged to understand the process, as well as to establish possible gaps. It is referred to as a National Time Release Study and is being held at the conference room at the Customs and Excise Headquarters in Belize City. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

A time release study was initially conducted in 2018, whena workshop was done to document processes for the different modes of transport, specifically land and sea. This was made possible through grant funding from the Caribbean Development Bank.


Therese Martinez, Asst. Comptroller (Southern), Customs & Excise Department

Therese Martinez

“We were not able to do at that time for air. And so since 2018, we did the process, we documented those and for this session this time around we will be able to do the physical review and the processing for air. So part of this session, those who are here participating will be visiting the international airport to look at the processes there and to document those.”


For years, Belize has been using the ASYCUDA system. This is the customs management software being used by eighty countries and territories around the world to facilitate the ease of doing business. Comptroller Estella Leslie says that at this time, it takes two days from beginning to end to get items cleared and made available to consumers. This ease of conducting business has economic benefits.


Estella Leslie

Estella Leslie, Comptroller, Customs & Excise Department

“We have always been called upon to speed up the process in how we do business because like I explained in my opening remarks, time is money for the importers and the trading community. So this study will map the time, the actual time it takes from the time the goods enter until it is cleared by customs. Bear in mind that I spoke to us having ASYCUDA World that has improved our performance greatly, but customs is not the only entity engaged in the clearance process. We also have the ports, we have the shipping agencies, the custom brokers – so all these people play a vital role in the entire process. So this time release study will take all of that into consideration and map the time that each entity takes and the amount of documentation that is required so that we know exactly where there are any holes in the system so that we could find ways to improve on our efficiency and effectiveness.”


Earl Stewart Jr., Pre-Accredited Expert for Time Release Study, W.C.O.

Earl Stewart Jr.

“I like to refer to the time release tool developed by the WCO as an opportunity for improvement. It’s a tool of opportunities. So there are benefits to be derived for the government, there are benefits to be derived for the customs administration and for the stakeholders and even the end consumer. So we are talking about efficiency in terms of how goods move with efficacy through the border, efficiency, the effectiveness, seamlessly. And that contributes to economic activities. So if you understand economics – economics 101 – we like to say the faster goods get to market the more profitable business will be.”


…and so the week-long national workshop for a Belize Time Release Study by the World Customs Organization will help to further build the capacity of all stakeholders through the use of a software to process data for land, sea and air.  There were bottlenecks created in the supply chain due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  While that is being resolved, Pre-Accredited Expert for Time Release Study, Earl Stewart Junior says that simply put, time is money.


Earl Stewart Jr.

“If you can get the goods moved with alacrity through the ports then there will be reduced costs for the broker, shipping agent, the importer in general making the cost of business more cost effective.”


Duane Moody 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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