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Sri Lanka Customs to introduce modern warehousing technologies

By: Staff Writer

March 07, Colombo (LNW): The Government is enhancing the policy framework governing Customs Bonded Warehouses amid concerns of inefficiency, corruption and drop in revenue collection, while reviewing relevant laws, regulations, administrative guidelines and standard operating procedures.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology will be introduced ensuring the minimising of human intervention in import and export procedures while establishing one clearing centre in collaboration with the Ports and Sri Lanka Customs.

The department has been directed to strengthen IT-based tax administration, and improve capacity development, including a revenue administration diagnostic assessment in addition to the transparency of audit.

In order to prevent mis-invoicing in imports and exports trade, Sri Lanka Customs is set to fully digitalise trade processes, he said adding that it will prevent under- and over-invoicing of businessmen.

A Common Container Yard is expected to be built in Kerawalapitiya to inspect all containers with the participation of the Sri Lanka Customs by integrating four yards of the department located in various places such as Ingurukade and Orugodawatta.

Recognising the need to adapt to evolving warehousing technologies and enhance competitiveness in the supply chain process the Cabinet of Ministers approved enhancing the policy framework governing Customs Bonded Warehouses.

The approved proposal empowers the ‘Revised and Updated Policy Framework for Appointing Common Bonded Warehouses’ laid down under section 69 of the Customs Ordinance.

A Customs Bonded Warehouse serves as a crucial storage facility, ensuring the safety and quality of imported goods before the payment of applicable taxes and their transportation. Governed by section 69 of the Customs Ordinance (Chapter 235), the Finance Minister, upon the recommendation of the Director-General of Customs, has the authority to appoint such warehouses.

In response to changing industry dynamics and technological advancements in warehousing, it has been acknowledged that the mandatory minimum space requirements for common customs bonded warehouses need to be revised.

The proposal put forth by President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his capacity as the Finance, Economic Stabilisation and National Policies was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers at its meeting held on Monday.

Sri Lanka’s then finance minister Mangala Samaraweera proposed to lift the requirement for a minimum 50,000 square feet (about 230 x 220 feet) to set up a private bonded warehouse, following requests from industry.

Sri Lanka has proposed the setting up of bonded warehouses in a budget proposal in 2016, but businesses had said the size should be decided by the requirements of the firm.

The late Minister Samaraweera had proposed that the discretion of setting the size should be given to the director general of customs. The cabinet of ministers had cleared the proposal.

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