Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest.
By RIEL MAJOR
Tribune Staff Reporter
DEPUTY Prime Minister Peter Turnquest has defended the new Click2Clear system after a series of complaints by users. People had criticised the Customs system for not being user friendly or functioning efficiently.
On Monday, scores of customers were frustrated from waiting to be served at the Arawak Cay Customs Department – complaining that the system was not functioning properly.
A customer, who preferred not to be named, said the site was wreaking havoc on her blood pressure.
She said: “I fill out the form and add photo, and it says it cannot verify the NIB number. They need to work out the issues with the website because I signed up over a month ago and heard nothing.”
Another disgruntled patron said he was frustrated trying to navigate through the website.
“‘When will all the kinks be worked out?’ I’ve tried several times submitting through website, live chats with Customs agents, submitting documents via email and calling help desk. They keep replying via email that they need a valid NIB smart card, my address and info, and they replied also saying my first name is invalid! I mean, I had my name all my life, I would know it’s valid. I’m now frustrated with all the submissions.”
One person said their application was denied twice. “I wasn’t able to upload scan of NIB card. Will try again when I’m feeling more patient.”
Mr Turnquest said: “There was a back-up on Friday in checking declarations, however all were cleared on Saturday. There is presently no hold up at APD (Arawak Port Development Company). There are six officers from the IT unit to assist brokers and officers in the ground with any issues that either may have in adjusting to the new system.”
When asked if any adjustments will be made to make the process easier, Mr Turnquest said as expected with any system there is a learning curve.
He said: “The Click2Clear system is innovative and feature-rich that will significantly assist with efficient cross-border trade once the learning curve is overcome by both Customs officers in the field as well as brokers and importers.”
Earlier in the year, Customs officials said they had reached a “major milestone” having integrated New Providence seaport to the Click2Clear Portal.
Superintendent Tyrone Sands, underscoring the importance of the move, stated: “This is important because over 80 percent of cargo coming into The Bahamas comes through the New Providence seaport in the Click2Clear business portal.”
He added: “This new system creates a level playing field for all importers. Customs processing will be more transparent, efficient and affordable. The system allows us to move toward a cashless Customs and reduce leakage of duty and revenue collection.”