Sri Lanka Customs and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) will soon automate the payment systems to facilitate electronic online payments to their clients, it was revealed at a recent workshop organized by the Shippers’ Academy, Colombo.
At the event, Dr Priyath Bandu Wickrama, Chairman SLPA and his team explained the process on how the SLPA would introduce the new scheme. "Already the software is in place and soon we will be doing some trial runs with some clients and hopefully by January we will be up and running and nobody should come to the port any more to make payments,” he said. The system will allow clients of the port to log in through the Internet and make payments and this information will be updated at the port system and customs along with the facilitating bank. According to the SLPA even credit cards could be used to pay e -bills among many other options to the clients.
Additional Director General of Customs, Ajantha Dias, according to a statement on the proceedings issued by the Shippers’ Academy, also confirmed that they too are ready with e- payments and have already done the test runs and requested the trade to use the facility which is now operational with the long room and CusDec activity and will be extended to all areas soon. It was also revealed that, Sri Lanka Customs will be implementing the latest software ASYCUDA World from the 1st of November. With the new system the clients should be able to do many documentation processes via the Internet, including payments. It was also mentioned that the payments could be made online from any part of the island as the system would be web-based.
This trade facilitation comes to a reality with customs, and the Bank of Ceylon (BoC) working together over the last eight months, and simultaneously SLPA upgrading their financial software. BoC is the first bank to introduce the e- portal with customs.
A presentation was made by the officials of the BoC who attended the seminar and they too were confident that the bank could facilitate all importers and exporters through this new system to reduce cost. It was reported initially that the customs facility would be available with BoC only whilst the port confirmed that they will soon extend it to all the banking channels.
The institutions also pointed out that at the initial stages they may have teething problems and requested the industry to understand such situations as this is a new system.
CEO of the Shippers’ Academy Rohan Masakorala and other industry participants welcomed the initiative taken by the three institutions and expressed hope that the implementation will be accelerated as this will help local trading community to reduce cost and other related operational aspects in their day- to- day work.